Indo-France Relations: Basics Explained

Last week Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the Guest of Honour at France’s Bastille Day parade.

 ‘Horizon 2047: 25th Anniversary of the India-France Strategic Partnership, Towards A Century of India-France’ document that was released after the talks.

  • India and France said they are cooperating closely on the transition towards a low carbon economy
  • Also adopted a roadmap for expanding India-France cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, ostensibly to counter the expansionist aspirations of China.
  • Also agreed on supporting the joint development of a combat aircraft engine, with a roadmap of the project being developed by Safran of France and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) before the end of this year.
  • The two sides agreed to support industrial cooperation for the motorization of heavy-lift helicopters under the Indian Multi-Role Helicopter programme with Safran Helicopter Engine in France. A shareholders agreement between Hindustan Aeronautics of India and Safran Helicopter Engine of France was concluded for engine development.
  • The two leaders noted that the contract between Safran Helicopter Engine and the HAL for the transfer of technology for forging and castings for the Shakti Engine reflected the commitment of France to support the Make in India programme.
  • An MoU between Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Limited (GRSE), and the Naval Group of France was signed for collaboration in the field of surface ships, aimed at catering to fulfil the requirement of India and International Naval forces.
  • The New Space India Limited, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation I(SRO), and the Arianespace of France inked an intent to collaborate in commercial launch services.
  • The announcement of the use of UPI payment mechanism in France
  • A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Mazgon Dockyard Limited of India and Naval Group of France for the construction of three additional submarines under the P75 programme. New Delhi and Paris agreed to explore more ambitious projects to develop India’s submarine fleet and its performance with support from France.
  • India and France have stepped up their collaboration in combating climate change and in environmental protection, and announced that they will constructively engage other like-minded countries to strengthen the negotiations for an international legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution.
  • To attract more Indian students to France, it was announced during the visit that Indian students pursuing master’s degrees in France can now get a five-year-long post-study visa.


India-France Relations

India and France have traditionally close and friendly relations. In 1998, the two countries entered into Strategic Partnership.  India and France are long-standing strategic partners in the Indo-Pacific. In 2020 France became the 23rd member of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA). Both countries have joint naval exercises in the form of Varuna;Garuda (air force),

India and France in September 2022 agreed to set up an Indo-Pacific Trilateral Development Cooperation Fund that will support sustainable innovative solutions for countries in the Indo-pacific region.

India, France, UAE Trilateral Initiative is aimed at ensuring maritime domain awareness and security from the east coast of Africa to the far Pacific.

Both India and France value their strategic autonomy, pursue independence in their foreign policies, and seek a multipolar world.

areas of defence cooperation(Rafale deal: six Scorpene submarines, space cooperation (satellite launched by Arianespace; jointly developed Megha Tropiques satellite) and civil nuclear cooperation (NPCIL and M/s AREVA for the implementation of EPR for the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project ) constitute the three principal pillars of Strategic Partnership.

Apart from these traditional fields of cooperation, India and France are increasingly engaged in new areas of cooperation like climate change, sustainable growth and development, the International Solar Alliance etc.  

India and France support a multi-polar world order. France has continued to support India’s claim for permanent membership of the Security Council and the reforms of the United Nations. France has provided consistent support to India’s candidature for the membership of Multilateral Export Control regimes, viz. NSG and MTCR. France’s support was vital in India’s accession to MTCR in June 2016.

India and France have consistently condemned terrorism and have resolved to work together for adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) in the UN. President Hollande visited India from 24-26 January 2016 as the chief guest of the Republic Day celebration. In a historic first, a French military contingent also marched on Rajpath on the Republic Day and thus France became the first ever foreign country to have been invited to participate in the march.

Both cooperate closely on climate change initiatives. Last October 2022, they signed a Road Map on Green Hydrogen, which aims “to bring the French and Indian hydrogen ecosystems together” to establish a reliable and sustainable value chain for a global supply of decarbonised hydrogen. In February 2022, they signed a Road Map on the Blue Economy and Ocean Governance.

The bilateral trade in goods between the two stands at $13.4 billion for 2022-23 accounting for less than 1.2 per cent of India’s total trade. Whereas the bilateral trade in services is at $6.3 billion in 2021. Despite vast possibilities, economic and trade cooperation remains far below its potential. France is the 5th largest trading partner for India in the EU, falling behind, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, and Italy. Despite having good relations, France and India don’t have a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between them.Further, no progress is being made on the India-EU Broad based Trade and Investment agreement (BTIA) as well.


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