New Delhi, Close on the heels of Annual Defence Dialogue held between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and French Minister for Armed Forces Ms. Florence Parly in New Delhi on December 17, Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France Secretary-General François Delattre visited India in an official visit from December 20-22 and discussed with Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla the potential for cooperation in sectors such as defence and security, space, cybersecurity and the digital economy, blue economy, education and people-to-people contacts, energy, health and climate change.
Ambassadors of India and France also joined the talks.
The Foreign Secretary had bilateral talks with the visiting Secretary-General on December 21 and took stock of the bilateral relationship.
India’s trade with France has witnessed a steady rise in the last decade reaching USD10.75 billion in 2020. Despite the pandemic, it is estimated that bilateral trade between the two countries in 2021 has reached USD 6.57 billion between April to October. To tap the full potential of bilateral trade and economic relations, both sides reiterated their commitment to restarting negotiations on the India-EU Free Trade Agreement.
France has emerged as a major source of FDI for India with more than 1,000 French establishments already present in India. France is the 11th largest foreign investor in India with a cumulative investment of USD 9.86 billion from April 2000 to June 2021 which represents 1.80 per cent of the total FDI inflows into India.
Most big French groups have their subsidiaries in India such as BNP Paribas, Capgemini, Airbus, Dassault, Arkema, L’Oréal, Sanofi, Total, etc. There are around 200 subsidiaries of Indian businesses established in France, which employ more than 6,000 people. Among Indian investments in France, majority are in IT services, pharmaceuticals/biotechnologies and hospitality sectors.
Reaffirming their shared commitment to a multipolar world and faith in multilateralism, the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary-General also held discussions on a number of regional and global issues of mutual interest, including cooperation in the European Union in view of the forthcoming French Presidency, Indo-Pacific, UNSC, situation in Afghanistan, among others.
Mr. Delattre also visited Mumbai, where he met other Indian officials.