New Delhi: French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna will be visiting India from September 14-15 on her first official trip to India and her first bilateral visit in Asia. During her stay in New Delhi, Colonna will hold talks with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on September 14, on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest, read the Ministry of External Affairs press release.
As part of the visit, Colonna will travel to Mumbai for engagements with industry leaders and site visits on September 15. India and France have a longstanding strategic partnership, strengthened by regular high-level consultations and growing convergences in various areas. The French Foreign Minister’s visit will pave the way for further strengthening the partnership across trade, defence, climate, migration and mobility, education and health sectors, added the release.
India and France have traditionally had close and friendly relations. In 1998, the two countries entered into a Strategic Partnership which is emblematic of their convergence of views on a range of international issues apart from a close and growing bilateral relationship. The two countries have a burgeoning economic relationship. French businesses and industry have forged linkages with the Indian economy and contribute significantly to our goal to become an Atmanirbhar Bharat.
There are over 1,000 French businesses in India in variegated sectors such as defence, ITES, consulting, engineering services, and heavy industry. France is the 7th largest foreign investor in India with a cumulative FDI stock of USD 9 billion from April 2, 2000, to December 2020, which represents 2 per cent of the total FDI inflows into India. Although India has a trade surplus, India-France bilateral trade remains far below potential. In the period April 2018-March 2019, India-France bilateral trade stood at 11.59 billion Euro, India’s exports to France were valued at 6.23 billion Euro meanwhile, French exports to India stood at 5.35 billion Euro.
The 18th Joint Economic Committee meeting, held virtually between the two countries on 27 November 2020, led to the signing of a bilateral ‘Fast Track Mechanism’ for investors. The first meetings were held on 16 February 2022 between E/I, Paris and the French Treasury and on 25 February 2022 between Secretary, DPIIT and the French Ambassador, in Paris and Delhi, respectively. Commerce and Industries Minister Piyush Goyal also held a virtual conference for French businesses in February 2021, whereby a dedicated desk was set up by Invest India for investor queries. In recent interactions at the EU level, India has sought an early harvest trade agreement, while working towards a comprehensive FTA.