French President Macron's visit may give push to India-EU trade deal talks: GTRI

French President Emmanuel Macron's visit here as the chief guest for the Republic Day celebrations is likely to give a fillip to the ongoing talks for a comprehensive trade agreement between India and EU, economic think tank GTRI said on Wednesday.
French President Emmanuel Macron and PM Narendra Modi
French President Emmanuel Macron and PM Narendra Modi

New Delhi | French President Emmanuel Macron's visit here as the chief guest for the Republic Day celebrations is likely to give a fillip to the ongoing talks for a comprehensive trade agreement between India and EU, economic think tank GTRI said on Wednesday.

France is a key member of the 27-nation bloc European Union (EU).

In June 2022, India and the EU restarted the negotiations for the long-pending trade and investment agreement, after a gap of over eight years.

The negotiations for the ambitious free-trade agreement (FTA) were suspended in 2013 after several rounds of talks spanning six years.

Macron will be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations on January 26 that would make him the sixth leader from France to grace the prestigious annual event. He will also visit Jaipur on Thursday.

The Global Trade Research Initiative (GTRI) said that this visit is expected to provide an impetus to various domains of mutual interest, ranging from defence cooperation to economic ties, and from energy collaboration to space and nuclear partnerships.

The discussions will likely pave the way for new agreements and deepen existing cooperation, reflecting the dynamic and evolving nature of the India-France strategic partnership, it said.

"France, as India's eighth largest trading partner, aims to strengthen trade and investment ties. Both countries are negotiating an FTA (India-EU FTA) to further expand the relationship. They may discuss market access, intellectual property rights, and investment facilitation," GTRI Co-Founder Ajay Srivastava said.

The seventh round of talks for the proposed agreement will be held from February 19-23 here.

Srivastava added that the discussions may include counterterrorism, intelligence sharing, and defence technology transfer.

"Potential collaboration is also expected in renewable energy, green hydrogen, and sustainable infrastructure development, underscoring their commitment to combating climate change," it said, adding that discussions between the two countries may also focus on enhancing multilateral cooperation on global health, food security, and climate change.

The growing space partnership between India's ISRO and France's CNES, including joint missions and technology transfer, will likely be a topic of discussion besides increasing cooperation in the civil nuclear segment, it said.

The economic relationship between India and France is marked by significant business presence, trade, and investment.

Over 1,000 French companies operate in India across various sectors like manufacturing, services, and technology, while more than 200 Indian companies are established in France.

In 2022-23, the bilateral trade reached USD 19.2 billion (export USD 7.6 billion and imports USD 6.2 billion).

India's exports to France included diesel (USD 707.9 million), ATF (USD 405 million), turbojets (USD 496 million), apparels(USD 850 million), footwear (USD 157 million), smartphones (USD 248 million), gold jewellery (USD 160.5 million), airplane parts (USD 158 million), medicines (USD 447.8 million), and chemicals (USD 364.5 million).

On the other hand, main imports included planes, helicopters, and/or spacecraft (USD 2.1 billion), LNG (USD 400 million), navigation equipment (USD 102 million), turbojets, and gas turbines (USD 442.2 million).

In the domain of services, India exported financial, IT, maintenance and repair, travel, transport, and other business services worth USD 3.2 billion to France, while importing services such as other business services, transportation, and insurance, amounting to USD 2.2 billion.

Investment-wise, France ranks 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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