French participation at Tamil Nadu Global Investors Meet
H.E. Mr Paul Hermelin, Special Representative of France for Economic Relations with India, and H.E. Mr François Richier, Ambassador of France to India, led a 102-member French business delegation to the Tamil Nadu Global Investors Meet (GIM), that took place in Chennai on 9-10 September 2015.
Reflecting its prominent position among leading foreign investors in India and Tamil Nadu, France was the partner country for the 2015 Tamil Nadu GIM.
Mr Hermelin spoke at the opening session of the GIM, which was inaugurated by Selvi J. Jayalalithaa, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. The delegation, whose visit was organised by the Regional Economic Service of the French Embassy, composed of French companies from the urban development and renewable energy sectors, French companies already established in Tamil Nadu, as well as representatives and companies from the French regions of Centre, Pays-de-la-Loire, Midi-Pyrénées, and Reunion Island.
As First Partner Country for the Meet, France had set up a pavilion, where the products and services of 19 companies and partners were showcased, and was invited to highlight its expertise in the urban development and renewable energy sectors during the Country Seminar.
The French Pavilion was inaugurated at GIM by H.E. Mr Paul Hermelin.
The panellists of the “Country Seminar-France” on urban development and renewable energy were:
- Thiru K. Phanindra Reddy, Principal Secretary – Municipal Administration and Water Supply Department
- H.E. Mr François Richier, Ambassador of France to India
- Mr Nicolas Fornage, Head of the French Development Agency
- Leaders of 12 French cutting-edge technology companies
Apart from participation at the GIM, the delegation also held meetings with dignitaries and high-level officials of the Tamil Nadu Government:
- Thiru O Panneerselvam, Hon’ble Minister for Finance and Public Works, Planning, Irrigation and Elections
- Thiru K Gnanadesikan, Chief Secretary
- Thiru C V Sankar, Additional Chief Secretary Industries
- Thiru K Phanindra Reddy, Principal Secretary, Municipal Administration and Water Supply Department
- Thiru S Krishnan, Principal Secretary, Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Department; and
- Mr Rajesh Lakhoni, Principal Secretary, Energy Department.
French companies have a long and diversified presence in Tamil Nadu, with their number standing at 118 in early 2015. It is thus one of the top five states for French investments in India, with 29 French companies choosing Tamil Nadu for their corporate headquarters, including Euronext-indexed Michelin, Renault, Saint-Gobain, Valeo, and Vivendi. 60 French industrial houses – a rising number – currently contribute to boosting the State’s industry, being present in a vast array of sectors, including automobile (Renault), construction (Saint-Gobain), food processing (Lactalis), telecommunications (Alcatel), electricity supply and distribution (Alstom Grid).
Other prominent French companies active in the green urban development sector in Chennai are Suez Environment (water treatment plants) and Mailhem Ikos (biogas plants, renovation of old water supply networks, water treatment).
French companies are not only investing but bringing expertise, know-how and technology with them, as well as developing large research and development facilities in India (between 15,000 and 20,000 employees), in many cases with an international outlook. This is a direct contribution to skill development in India as well as to the “Make in India” programme. Renault’s new model, “Kwid”, for example, is being developed on the Renault-Nissan platform in Chennai and is geared not only to the Indian market but also those of its neighbouring countries. Leading French enterprises like Alcatel-Lucent, Saint-Gobain, Valeo and Alstom have also chosen Chennai for their R&D centres in India.
More than 1,000 French companies have put in a total investment stock of $19 billion (2014) – with more than €1 billion worth of new investments every year – placing France among the leading foreign investors in India. And this figure is poised to increase significantly over the next years with the consolidation and extension of existing investments, as well as the advent of new companies in the country (10 to 30 new French establishments are being set up every year in India). French companies, which cover a broad spectrum of sectors, also employ more than 3,00,000 skilled Indian workers across the country, placing France as one of India’s leading economic partners.
The investments made by French companies are long terms ones, aimed at producing in India for the world market. Some of the companies have been here for more than a century. Thanks to their massive investments all across the country, with remarkable success stories, French companies are already contributing to the ‘Make in India’ initiative and will do more in the near future, as announced by President Hollande during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to France in April 2015.