- In the light of upcoming visit of French President Emmanuel Macron’s to India wide-ranging talks were held which aimed at further boosting defence and security ties, with a focus on co-development of military platforms, and enhancing cooperation in the maritime sphere.
What were the keys issues discussed?
- Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her French counterpart Florence Parley deliberated on a host of key issues, including the regional security situation, transfer of critical technology for various defence projects and ways to ramp up overall strategic ties.
- Defence and security cooperation as well as ways to enhance maritime cooperation were discussed in the meeting.
- Joint exercises of the armed forces and counter-terrorism to industrial and technological partnership under the ‘Make in India’ initiative were also on the cards.
- France is likely to push for a follow on order of additional Rafale fighter jets, after the delivery of 36 jets under a Rs 58,000 crore deal finalised last year.
India – France
- India and France share foundational values of individual liberty, human rights, rule of law and value their independence and strategic autonomy.
- As Strategic Partners, both countries share converging views on key regional and global issues and continue to consult each other closely on strategic and security matters of mutual interest.
- France reaffirmed its support for India’s candidature for a permanent membership of the UN Security Council.
- The two countries welcomed the forward movement on the issue of United Nations reforms to the stage of text-based negotiations and the important role played by France in this process.
- The two Leaders welcomed the constructive discussions at the recent bilateral consultations on UN issues on 22 January 2016 and welcomed the convergence of views on major regional & international issues.
Mutual concern on Security
- India and France has committed to counter terrorism and thus welcomed the separate joint statement on Counter-terrorism cooperation.
- Both the country has agreed to intensify cooperation between the Indian and French security forces in the fields of homeland security, cyber security, Special Forces and intelligence-sharing to fight against criminal networks and tackle the common threat of terrorism.
- Both India and France is mutually looking forward to an early conclusion of an Agreement on Prevention of Consumption of Illicit Drugs & Psychotropic Substances hoping that cooperation in this field will also lead to the disruption of terrorist financing structures.
- The first-ever bilateral dialogue on Maritime Security in the Indian Ocean Region paved the way for enhanced cooperation in maintaining the safety of sea-lanes for trade and communications, countering the threat of piracy and maritime terrorism, maritime domain awareness is warming.
- The bilateral Agreement on Defence Cooperation concluded in 2006 has advanced cooperation in defence cooperation, production, research and development and procurement of defence material, extending the Cooperation will be extended for another ten years.
- Both the countries welcomed the successful air exercise Garuda in June 2014 and naval exercise Varuna in April 2015, in which the French carrier strike group participated.
- The Leaders welcomed the port call at Toulon by the Indian Naval Ship Trikand, and the conduct of a joint exercise to enhance interoperability between the two navies.
- Both India – France has called for further intensification of cooperation in agreed areas, including collaboration in defence technologies, research and development.
- They encouraged their respective business enterprises to enter into arrangements for co-development and co-production of defence equipment in India, including transfer of know-how and technologies.
- The Leaders have pledged their support to public and private enterprises for intensifying cooperation in this field.
- The two Leaders welcomed the conclusion of the Inter-governmental Agreement (IGA) on the acquisition of 36 Rafale fighter aircrafts in flyaway condition.
- They have agreed to intensify cooperation between the Indian and French Armed Forces in the fields of cyber security, Special Forces and intelligence-sharing to tackle the common threat of terrorism.
- France and India reaffirmed their commitment to responsible and sustainable development of civil nuclear energy with highest consideration to safety, security, non-proliferation and environmental protection.
- In pursuance of the 2008 Agreement on the Development of Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy between India and France, the two leaders encouraged their industrial companies to conclude techno-commercial negotiations for the construction of six nuclear power reactor units at Jaitapur.
- The construction was done with due consideration to cost viability of the project, economical financing from the French side, collaboration on transfer of technology and cost-effective localisation of manufacturing in India for large and critical components in accord with Government of India’s “Make in India” initiative.
- France acknowledged the need for India to have lifetime guarantee of fuel supply and renewed its commitment to reliable, uninterrupted and continued access to nuclear fuel supply throughout the entire lifetime of the plants.
- PM Modi and President Hollande welcomed the initialing of revised Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between EDF and NPCIL for the construction of six EPR units at Jaitapur. France welcomed the decision by the Government of India to ratify the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage.
- They also appreciated the long-standing relations between their nuclear regulatory authorities – India’s AERB and France’s ASN – which has facilitated sharing of valuable experiences, best practices and developments related to nuclear safety and regulatory issues.
Area of common objective
- France and India share common concerns and objectives in the field of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
- France and India committed to continue to work jointly towards India’s attainment of the multilateral export control regimes, namely, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Australia Group, and the Wassenaar Arrangement.
- India and France underscored their determination to achieve the accession of India to the NSG in 2016.
- France and India underlined their support for negotiations on the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT) on the basis of the Shannon mandate, which remains an essential foundation for progress on the issue of Disarmament.
- Both India and France stands clear on the commitments made in the Indo-French Joint Statement issued in April 2015 for closer economic engagement.
- India and France highlighted the attractiveness of France for Indian investors, especially in terms of leveraging French technological expertise and competencies.
Bilateral Trade and Investment
- Dialogue on economic and financial issues on cooperation in economy and finance took place.
- Such dialogues acts as a forum to discuss, on an annual basis, global and financial governance issues as well as bilateral economic and financial matters, to promote exchanges and cross investments.
- Both nations took positive note of the Action Taken Report and the new recommendations presented by the Co-Chairs of the CEO Forum in Chandigarh.
- India and France has welcomed the signing of a MoU on Cooperation between Food Safety and Standards Authority of India and the Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire de l’alimentation, de l’environnement et du travail (ANSES) of France in the field of food safety and standards.
- Recognizing the shared commitment of India and France to cooperate in preventing off-shore tax evasion and the possibility is to explore further avenues for joint co-operation, especially in capacity building and sharing of best practices in line with G20 commitments.
- India and France share a robust people-to-people and tourism contacts as well as the wide-ranging cultural, educational and scientific exchanges underpinned by the presence of a vibrant Indian diaspora in France.
- The Leaders of both the countries expressed satisfaction that the Volontariat International en Entreprises (VIE) Scheme, to facilitate internships and professional experience for students and young professionals in both countries have been successfully implemented.
- India’s decision to increase the number of young professional beneficiaries of the French VIE program in India from 50 to 250 per year for a maximum period of stay of 2 years is welcoming
- An agreement has been signed between the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Pune and the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon.
- The agreement signed between the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai and French CNRS/Telecom Bretagne/Université de Bretagne occidentale/Université de Bretagne Sud/ENSTA Bretagne/ENI Bretagne.
- The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for sponsored Ph.D. Fellowships signed between Thales and Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai.
- Recognizing that skills development was a key priority, both leaders welcomed the important role played by French companies in India in training and skilling the Indian workforce and encouraged them to engage even more actively in the sector.
- They also welcomed partnership between the French CNCP and the National Skills Development Authority of India focusing on Qualifications Register under the framework of the MOU on cooperation signed between India and France.
- The leaders expressed their satisfaction on the progress achieved between the Indian and French partners involved in setting up the future Institute of Marine Biology and Biotechnology.
- France and India view each other as important partners in space technology and applications. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and its French counterpart, the Centre National de Etudes Spatiales (CNES) have a rich history of cooperation and collaboration spanning five decades.
- During the visit of the Indian Prime Minister to France in April 2015, joint stamps were released to commemorate the completion of 50 years of Cooperation in Space.
- A program agreement for a reinforced cooperation in space activities was signed between the two countries during the visit. The program envisages joint development of an earth observation satellite, cooperation in inter-planetary missions and hosting of a French payload on an Indian satellite.
- Two other MoUs on Space, signed during the PMs Visit, include the extension of the ISRO-CNES MoU on Megha Tropiques satellite for two years and MoU between ISRO, CNES and ONERA for Ka-band
- ISRO and CNES had jointly developed the Satellite for ARGOS and ALTIKA (SARAL) carrying a radar altimeter and a data collection platform. The SARAL satellite was launched on-board ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) in February 2013.
- Under a commercial Launch Service Agreement between Antrix Corporation Limited and ASTRIUM SAS, an advanced Remote Sensing satellite – SPOT-7 built by ASTRIUM SAS was successfully launched on-board PSLV from India in June 2014.
- Arianespace, France has been the major provider of launch services to Indian GeoStationary satellites. As many as 18 Indian satellites have been launched by Arianespace on a commercial basis.
- On 7th December 2014, India’s multi-band telecommunications satellite GSAT-16 was precisely placed into the intended Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit by the Ariane-5 launch vehicle.
- Recognizing the importance of space cooperation between the countries, the Indian government has felicitated Professor Jacques Blamont (French Scientist), one of the chief architects of this cooperation, with the Padma Shri Award in 2015.
Cooperation in the field of Railways
- There has been longstanding cooperation in the field of railway between India and France.
- Memorandum of Understanding for Technical Cooperation in the field of Railways between Indian Railways and Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français (SNCF), the French National Railways were signed.
Cooperation in the field of sports
- In the field of sports, the Indian and French cooperation is enhanced by various initiatives developing the ties of friendship and solidarity between both nations.
- During the visit of PM Modi in 2015, both the governments signed a MoU providing for exchanges on sports medicine, training of executives, exchanges on expertise in high level sports, institutional cooperation, and promotion of participation of women in sports and prevention and fight against doping in sports.