French President Macron's Visit Sparks Momentum for India-EU Trade Talks

By Consultants Review Team Wednesday, 24 January 2024

French President Emmanuel Macron's presence as the chief guest during India's Republic Day celebrations is anticipated to boost the ongoing discussions for a comprehensive trade agreement between India and the European Union (EU), according to economic think tank GTRI. France holds a crucial position as a member of the 27-nation EU bloc. The talks for the extensive trade and investment agreement between India and the EU resumed in June 2022 after an interruption of over eight years, with the ambitious free-trade agreement (FTA) negotiations initially suspended in 2013 after six years of discussions.

President Macron's visit for the Republic Day festivities on January 26, making him the sixth French leader to participate in this prestigious event, is expected to go beyond symbolic gestures. GTRI suggests that the discussions during Macron's visit will not only encompass defense cooperation but also extend to economic ties, energy collaboration, and space and nuclear partnerships. The think tank anticipates that new agreements will be explored, and existing cooperation will deepen, reflecting the dynamic nature of the strategic partnership between India and France.

As India's eighth-largest trading partner, France aims to enhance trade and investment ties with the country. The ongoing negotiations for the India-EU FTA, scheduled for the seventh round from February 19-23, may address key issues such as market access, intellectual property rights, and investment facilitation. Discussions could also encompass counterterrorism, intelligence sharing, and defense technology transfer.

GTRI Co-Founder Ajay Srivastava emphasizes the potential for collaboration in renewable energy, green hydrogen, and sustainable infrastructure development, aligning with both nations' commitment to combating climate change. The think tank also highlights the growing partnership between India's ISRO and France's CNES in space exploration and technology transfer, as well as increasing cooperation in the civil nuclear segment.

The economic ties between India and France are substantial, with over 1,000 French companies operating in India and more than 200 Indian companies established in France across various sectors. Bilateral trade reached USD 19.2 billion in 2022-23, with key exports from India including diesel, aviation fuel, turbojets, apparel, footwear, smartphones, gold jewelry, airplane parts, medicines, and chemicals. Notably, France stands as the 11th largest investor in India, with a cumulative Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflow of USD 10.5 billion from April 2000 to March 2023.

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