Context:

  • French President Emmanuel Macron’s ‘fairly successful’ visit to India paves way for a ‘clear roadmap’ for heightened Indo-French engagement over a range of areas from clean energy, education, trade, space, defence ties to maritime cooperation and geopolitics.

Background:

  • 10th march, 2018: French President Emmanuel Macron had arrived in India on 10th march, 2018.
  • His four-day visit was aimed at strengthening the bilateral economic, political and strategic dimensions of engagement.

What are the reasons for which French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to India is important for bilateral cooperation of India and France?

President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to India is important in multiple contexts. The reasons are as follows:

President Emmanuel Macron’s credibility:

  • President Emmanuel Macron is a strong-willed leader, with an ambitious reform agenda for France as well as for the European Union.
  • Macron has positioned himself as the most credible interlocutor in Europe.
  • This makes his visit that much more important.

International context:

  • India and France can benefit from a shared understanding of the challenges that the world is facing today with the global uncertainties produced by Trump’s disruptive foreign policy and dictatorship in China.
  • India and France are working together to implement the Paris Agreement on Climate Change which Trump has repudiated.

Green energy:

  • The International Solar Alliance has been set in motion jointly by PM Narendra Modi and Macron on March 11th, 2018. (important for prelims)

Maritime dimension:

  • Macron’s visit should lead to a bolstering of India-France maritime cooperation in the Indian Ocean, with more synergy between the two navies in the Gulf area where France has a base (in Abu Dhabi) and better mutual understanding of the implications of a Chinese base in Gwadar. 

Connectivity projects:

  • France could also participate in connectivity projects such as the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor which would extend to Africa’s eastern shore board where France has a territorial presence.

Bilateral level:

  • At the bilateral level, India’s relations with France have been stable and productive.
  • The spectrum of these relations is wider than with India’s other major western partners, as beyond defence, trade, investment, education and culture, both the countries have had long standing cooperation in sensitive areas such as nuclear and space. 

What are the major strategic takeaways from President Emmanuel Macron’s recent visit to India?

The agreements and discussions between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Emmanuel Macron to strengthen strategic partnership are as follows:

  • The two leaders welcomed the signing of the “Agreement between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the Republic of France regarding the Exchange and Reciprocal Protection of Classified or Protected Information” between India and France.
  • Both sides also agreed to create an annual defence dialogue at the ministerial level.
  • The leaders also welcomed the “Joint Strategic Vision of India-France Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region”, as a guiding beacon for such partnership.
  • The two leaders welcomed the signing of the “Agreement between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the Republic of France for the provision of reciprocal logistics support between their Armed Forces”, which seeks to extend logistical support on reciprocal access to respective facilities for Indian and French armed forces.
  • The two leaders noted with satisfaction the on-schedule progress in the implementation of acquisition related agreements, including the Rafale aircraft agreement signed in 2016.
  • They acknowledged that the Make-in-India initiative offers a valuable opportunity for Indian and French defence enterprises to enter into arrangements for co-development and co-production of defence equipment in India.
  • The leaders noted ongoing discussions between DRDO and SAFRAN on combat aircraft engine and encouraged necessary measures and forward looking approaches to facilitate early conclusion.
  • The two leaders agreed to strengthen counter-terrorism in Multilateral Fora such as UN, GCTF, FATF and G20 etc.
  • They called upon all UN member countries to implement the UNSC Resolution 1267 and other relevant resolutions designating terrorist entities.
  • The leaders also agreed to work together on early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) in the UN.
  • The two leaders reiterated the goal of commencing works at the Jaitapur project around the end of 2018.
  • Once installed, the Jaitapur project will be the largest nuclear power plant in the world, with a total capacity of 9.6 GW. (important for prelims)
  • It will contribute, in addition to renewable energy, to achieving India’s goal of 40% non-fossil energy by 2030. (important for prelims)
  • They also appreciated the long-standing relations and continuing interactions between their nuclear regulatory authorities, India’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and France’s Autorité de sûretéNucléaire (ASN) which have facilitated sharing of valuable experiences, best practices and developments related to nuclear safety and regulatory issues.

Expanding Global Strategic Convergences:

  • France reaffirmed its support for India’s candidature for a permanent membership of the UN Security Council.
  • India and France reaffirmed their support for the continued full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) signed between Iran and the E3+3.
  • Both leaders reaffirmed the primacy of the UN-led Geneva process for a comprehensive and peaceful resolution of the Syrian conflict through all-inclusive Syrian-led political process taking into account the legitimate aspirations of the people of Syria.
  • They also emphasized the importance of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and stressed that under no circumstances should there be any use of chemical weapons.
  • The leaders also welcomed the establishment of the G5 Sahel Joint Force, which demonstrates the willingness of African nations to take charge of their own security.
  • The leaders reiterated their support to the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and the values it promotes.
  • They expressed support to the efforts of both sides to re-engage actively towards timely relaunching of negotiations for a comprehensive and mutually beneficial EU-India Broad Based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA).
  • An annual Policy and Planning Dialogue was also instituted between the two Foreign Ministries.
  • India and France are committed to implement the G20 decisions and to work together with other G20 members to achieve strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth.

Beyond strategic cooperation, what are the other major takeaways from President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to India?

Beyond strategic cooperation, the other major takeaways from President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to India are as follows:

Space Cooperation:

  • The leaders welcomed the “India-France Joint Vision for Space Cooperation” which spells out the concrete areas of future cooperation in this field.
  • They acknowledged, in particular, the ongoing cooperation between their space agencies to realize the third joint satellite mission – TRISHNA, meant for eco-system stress and water use monitoring and also accommodation of French instrument on India’s OCEANSAT-3

Economic Cooperation:

  • The leaders noted with satisfaction the involvement of French companies in several new and ongoing manufacturing partnership projects in India.
  • Both sides noted with satisfaction the growth in bilateral trade during the recent period, and expressed their desire that this momentum be sustained with the aim of raising trade in goods to 15 billion euros by 2022.
  • They encouraged SMEs and mid-cap companies to play a growing role in the economic and commercial exchanges between the two countries.
  • Reaffirming their commitment to facilitate a conducive environment for enhancing bilateral trade and investment, the leaders:
    • Underlined the importance of regular and sustained economic cooperation dialogue through the India-France Joint Committee, and
    • Welcomed the new recommendations presented by the Co-Chairs of the CEO Forum in Delhi in March 2018.
  • The two leaders stressed the importance of holding annually a Dialogue at the ministerial level to deepen cooperation in the economic and financial sectors.

Educational and Science & Technology Cooperation:

  • The leaders recognized with satisfaction a vibrant educational cooperation within the Governmental framework and amongst Universities and academic institutes and encouraged them to increase the number and quality of student exchanges, with the aim of reaching 10,000 students by 2020.
  • They welcomed the holding of the Knowledge Summit, the first Indo-French conference on research and higher education, in New Delhi on 10th and 11th March 2018.
  • Recognizing that skill development is a key priority for the two countries, both leaders welcomed the important role played by French companies in India in training and skilling of the Indian workforce and encouraged them to engage even more actively in the sector.
  • The leaders encouraged Indo-French Centre for Promotion of Advance Research (CEFIPRA) to expand its role through interactive continuum between research, market and societal needs by linking the discoveries from fundamental research and their technological applications.
  • In order to expand the scope and content of the bilateral cooperation in science, technology and innovation, the leaders emphasized the need to convene the Joint Committee on S&T in 2018.

Partnership for the planet:

  • The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to lead the fight against climate change, based on the principles of climate justice, fostering climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development.
  • They committed to fully implement the Paris Agreement at the COP24 and further on, under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as a part of an irreversible global process at combating climate change for the benefit of all humanity.
  • They stressed the positive contribution of the One Plant Summit in Paris on 12 December 2017 to this objective.

International Solar Alliance:

  • The two leaders welcomed the entry into force of the Framework Agreement of the International Solar Alliance (ISA).
  • The leaders underlined their commitment to furthering and deepening concrete projects and programmes under the aegis of ISA to mobilize affordable financing for massive solar energy deployment.

Renewable energy:

  • The two leaders reaffirmed that the strengthening of the India-French technological cooperation on renewable energy was a common priority for encouraging the emergence and dissemination of innovation in all the sectors.
  • They stressed the importance of mobilizing public and private funds to support the development of solar energy.

Sustainable mobility:

  • The leaders noted that efficient modes of transportation with low GHG emissions are an essential condition for the sustainable development and economic growth of India and France.
  • They welcomed the signing of a ‘Statement of Intent between the French Ministry for Ecological and Inclusive Transition and NITI Aayog’, which will be supported by French technical assistance provided by French Development Agency (AFD).
  • The leaders reaffirmed the commitment of both countries to strengthening their railway cooperation.
  • The leaders also welcomed the establishment of a permanent Indo-French Railway Forum, bringing together the French Ministry of Ecological and Inclusive Transition, and SNCF (French Railways) on the one hand, and the Indian Ministry of Railways on the other, to pave the way for industrial cooperation between the two countries.

Smart Cities:

  • Prime Minister Modi and President Macron noted with satisfaction the excellent Indo-French cooperation on sustainable cities and Smart Cities, marked by numerous cases of innovation sharing and fruitful collaborations between French and Indian stakeholders.

Way ahead:

  • India and the EU should deepen their cooperation on multilateral and security issues, as well as on economic, trade and climate change issues.
  • India and France are willing to work together to improve the global economic and financial governance architecture, reduce excessive global imbalances, promote inclusive and interconnected development and tackle common global challenges, including terrorism, poverty, hunger, job creation, climate change, energy security, and inequality including gender inequality, as a basis for sustainable development.
  • India and France connectivity initiatives must be based on key principles of international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency; follow social and environmental standards, principles of financial responsibility, accountable debt-financing practices; and must be pursued in a manner that respects sovereignty and territorial integrity.
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