Indo-French relations

France and India enjoy an exceptionally warm relationship, which is the fruit of deep affinities and the unwavering trust between the two countries since India’s independence.

An intense cooperation between our two countries developed in areas as sensitive as defence, security and energy since the launch of our Strategic Partnership in 1998. As global strategic partners, India and France consult each other on all international matters in a spirit of mutual understanding, respect, trust, and support, taking into account their respective security interests.

In the economic field, trade relations have developed over the years and French companies have been investing massively in India: with an investment stock of around 20 billion euros, French companies are among the top international investors in India.

Frequent bilateral visits illustrate the vigour of this unique relationship. read more...

1- Political relations

As early as the 1980s France wished to give greater scope to its relations with India. This closer bilateral relationship was concretized with the establishment of a strategic partnership in 1998, and a strategic dialogue a year later. This dialogue is based on annual high-level meetings and consultations conducted twice a year by the Diplomatic Advisor to the French President and the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of India.

The State Visit of President François Hollande in January 2016, less than a year after the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to France in April 2015, reaffirmed the exceptional nature of the Indo-French strategic partnership and helped strengthen the dynamism of our economic, university, scientific and cultural exchanges.

The strategic partnership comprises the following focal areas:
- Civil nuclear cooperation: the bilateral cooperation agreement for the development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy, which entered into effect on 14 January 2010, defined the framework of our cooperation in this field. Two agreements signed on 6 December 2010 complete its legal aspects. Several cooperation projects in the area of nuclear research and safety are in the process of being finalized. The project of building a nuclear power plant in Jaitapur now involves 6 EPRs (European pressurized reactors), with a total capacity of 9900 MW. read more...

- Defence cooperation: our cooperation in this area is ambitious and several collaborative projects are currently being considered. Our military contacts are increasing through joint exercises.

France and its defence industry actively contribute to the “Make in India” programme in the defence sector. The first conventional submarine, Scorpene, which started being built in India in 2008 with transfer of technology and support from DCNS, began sea trials in 2015. An agreement on India’s acquisition of 36 Rafale fighter jets is currently being finalized. This will pave the way for unprecedented cooperation for the next four decades to come and enable India to develop its production capacities in this sector. read more...

- Counter-terrorism cooperation: Since the 2008 Mumbai attacks, France and India have strengthened their cooperation in this area. The November 2015 Paris attacks acted as a fresh catalyst. France and India have set up an intensive network of operational exchanges and joint actions between their respective intelligence and security forces. The first joint exercise between France’s GIGN and India’s NSG is on the anvil for 2016 as part of their cooperation. read more...

- Space cooperation: France and India celebrated 50 years of their space cooperation in 2014. They entered into an agreement on the use of outer space for peaceful purposes, signed on 30 September 2008, extended and clarified the areas of cooperation, emphasizing in particular the study of climate change using space-based facilities for Earth observation, or the development of telecommunications satellites for commercial purposes. This agreement made it possible to develop the Megha-Tropiques satellite, launched on 12 October 2011, and the SARAL satellite, which was put in orbit on 25 February 2013. The April 2015 MoU signed between the French (CNES) and Indian (ISRO) space agencies has opened the way for new projects. In the pipeline are a third jointly developed satellite for climate monitoring and a joint mission to be put in orbit for boosting the Argos system, which collects and processes environmental data via satellite. French contributions to India’s upcoming inter-planetary missions to Mars and Venus are currently under consideration. read more...

- Foreign policy: France’s own vision of reforms to global governance processes and its support to New Delhi on several strategic matters – France supports India’s candidacy for a seat as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and its access to civil nuclear cooperation – are well appreciated in India.

- At the regional level, France fully supports India in its fight against terrorism and welcomes the Indian government’s efforts on the resumption of political dialogue with Pakistan. France also updates India regarding its position on sensitive regional issues (Iran, Afghanistan, Syria).

- With regard to combating climate change, France and India actively strengthened their cooperation in preparation for COP21 in December 2015 and the implementation of the Paris Agreement. They jointly launched an International Solar Alliance, which will help federate the endeavours of developing countries to mobilise investments and encourage transfers of technology and innovation in the solar energy sector. They have also developed various projects on energy storage and sustainable urban development. The French Development Agency (AFD), established in India in 2008 – where it is mandated to preserve global public goods – will implement a 2-billion-euro credit line over the next few years to support Smart Cities and sustainable development projects.

2- Economic relations

Bilateral trade has increased significantly over the past fifteen years – it almost tripled between 2000 and 2010. More than the volume of bilateral trade, the dynamism of Indo-French economic relations springs from the establishment of French companies in India. Today, more than 1000 French subsidiaries from a wide spectrum of sectors are present in India and employ a workforce of around 3,00,000 persons. The total investment stock of these companies in India stands at around 20 billion euros. Thus, France is among the top three foreign investors in India.

French exports rose to 2.7 billion euros in 2014, while its imports rose to 5.2 billion euros (+12.9%). Bilateral trade, skewed to France’s detriment (2.5 billion euros in 2014), is closely linked to aeronautical exports.

If the India-EU Free Trade Agreement is signed in the near future, it could help re-balance civil bilateral trade.

France collaborates with India under the latter’s “Smart Cities” initiative. French companies specializing in the sustainable urban development sector are already active in around twenty Indian cities (metro, water, etc.).

French companies are present throughout the territory of India but are principally concentrated in the large metropolitan cities (Delhi-NCR, Mumbai/Pune, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, and Kolkata).

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French Companies in India

3- Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Developing bilateral cooperation on higher education, science, technology, research and innovation is a priority for France.

The acclaimed cultural festival, “Bonjour India”, first launched with resounding success in 2009-2010, presented a hundred different shows during its second edition in 2013. The third is due to be held in 2017.

In the field of higher education, there are approximately 4,000 Indian students in France, a number that is growing swiftly, as it has more than doubled over the past five years.

France’s carries out a twofold endeavour: support to scholarship programmes, and Indian and French institutions for developing inter-university agreements. Certain agreements are currently being negotiated (academic mobility, recognition of each other’s degrees), while others have been signed for encouraging more Indian scholars to study in France.

People-to-people contacts between France and India are also increasing with the development of tourism. The facilitation of visa procedures, with visa issuance within 48 hours and the implementation of biometrics, has encouraged this trend. Annually, around 4,00,000 Indian tourists visit France, which desires to host them in greater numbers.

Scientific and technical cooperation is another key area of our partnership. This cooperation is based on high-quality structures, bringing French and Indian researchers and scientists together, such as CEFIPRA (Franco-Indian Centre for the Promotion of Advanced Research), which celebrated its 25th anniversary in February 2012; the development of joint research laboratories in promising areas (neuroscience, chemistry); the two French Institutes in Delhi and Puducherry; the research centres and a very strong presence of French research in the private sector (10,000 to 20,000 persons) completes our presence.

The Indo-French technology summit, held in Delhi on 23-24 October 2013, gathered 900 participants in total, including 300 French delegates. 170 Indian companies and 200 public institutions came to meet 62 French companies and 70 public institutions present. It opened up a new ecosystem for extended collaboration between businesses, academic organizations, research organizations in technology related areas, education, urban development, water management.

Last modified on 05/05/2016

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