France bats for new global role for India

Written by ASHOK B SHARMA | New Delhi, January 25: | Updated: Jan 26 2008, 06:24am hrs
France joined Britain in pitching for India's case for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council and membership of the expanded G-8.

It has also decided to support India in developing the energy for the future nuclear energy. French companies would help India to opt for sustainable development while addressing environmental concerns

India has sought French collaboration in space research, apart from other technical collaboration, bilateral trade and investment.

The French President Nicolas Sarkozy while addressing the India-Economic Conference in Delhi organized by two apex industry bodies FICCI and CII in Delhi on Friday said : "G-8 should be turned into G-13 to include China, Brazil, South Africa, India and Mexico."

The British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown when he was in Delhi on January 21 had supported India's case for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. He also proposed expansion of G-8.

Sarkozy said that G-8 and the United Nations should be revamped to reflect the reality of the 21st century. India needs to have a permanent seat in the UN security Council in the interest of the global community, he said.

Keeping in view the next G-8 summit scheduled in Tokyo, Sarkozy said: "I know Japanese friends may have problem in inviting a neighbouring country in Asia. But India along with China, Brazil, South Africa and Mexico need to be rightly included in G-8."

Sarkozy who is leading a large French official and business delegation to India is slated to be the official chief guest on occasion of the India's Republic Day on Jauary 26, 2008.

He said that France admired how India as a populous, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic country could overcome challenges and register an economic growth rate of 7% to 10%, create jobs and also export skills. He said that some French companies, having green technology, were eager to help India on the path of sustainable development, while addressing environmental concerns. He also said that France would support India in adopting clean nuclear energy.

Sarkozy invited Indian investments and proposed to increase by the seats for Indian students undertaking education in France by threefold.

The Indian commerce and industry minister, Kamal Nath also pleaded for French investment in India saying:"our country respects global rules, including IPRs and geographical indications"

Kamal Nath arrived from Davos on Friday to meet the French President and is expected to fly back today to join the ongoing World Economic Forum meeting there.

He noted that though France was the 8th largest investor in India, French investments were just tip of an iceberg, being only 1.48% of total foreign direct investments (FDIs) to India. Cumulative French FDI in India was only $ 0.94 billion. Bilateral trade between the two countries was only $ 6.2 billion in 2006-07, he said.

Nath, however, said that bilateral trade between India and France more than trebled in the last 16 years and over this period Indian exports to France increased four-fold and Indian imports doubled.

French companies are active in India in a number of projects, notably in construction and engineering sectors. A number of French fashion brands like L'Oreal and Louis Vutton have made forays in Indian market. Major French companies present in India are LaFarge, Alcatel, Societe Generale, L'Oreal, BNP, Danone, Alsthom, SanofiAvantis, Saint Gobain, Schneider, Renault, Michelin, Total, Loius Vuition, Airbus, Sodexho, Onyx and Environment SA. Indian companies which have registered their presence in France are Tata Consultancy, Wipro, Infosys, Tata Steel, Reliance Communications, Jindal.

Nath noted that Invest in France Agency, a body that helps to channel investments into France, last year identified 300 Indian companies to formalize their investment plans. In this context, Nath called for involving Indian industry associations. He urged the French small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which have R&D, to invest in India. He outlined that India needed academic exchanges, science and technology cooperation in high technology and industrial cooperation through direct investment

He also invited French companies to invest in Indian farm sector and invited collaborations with Champagne-Ardennes, Picardie Industry and Agriresources Cluster and wanted a model similar to Agropole in Agen set up in India.

On the occasion of Sarkozy's visit, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in India and the French National Science Research Institute CNRS - entered into an agreement for the creation of joint research laboratory on sustainable chemistry at Interfaces. The joint research laboratory will focus its research partnership in the areas of green chemistry targeting therapeutic agents for cancer and neuro disorders, protein interactions for targeting alternative drugs/ biological systems. Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) at Hyderabad, one of the CSIR laboratories will be implementing the programme in partnership with CNRS laboratory for Molecular Chemistry on Molecular Photonics and University of Rennes in France.

Aa agreement has been signed by Power Grid with the French company Areva for improving the sub-transmission grid in Bihar. Avera also signed an agreement with Aravali Power Company for Indira Gandhi Super Thermal Power Project at Jhajjar.

BNP Paribas Lease Group has signed an agreement for strategic partnership in equipment finance for infrastructure. BNP will invest $ 140 million in the joint venture.

Carrefour confirmed its decision to enter Indian market with cash and carry stores and would select an Indian franchisee partner for all other retail stores. Degremont signed an agreement with Mumbai authorities to design, built and operate in four years one of the biggest drinking water treatment plant in the country. It has also agreed to build and operate a wastewater treatment and reuse plant in Delhi. The total value of the two contracts is 85.5 million euros.

A MoU has been signed EADS company and the National Aviation Company of India for jointly creating a maintenance, overhaul and repair centre for Airbus aircraft. Laboratories Pierre Fabre and Nicholas Piramal Pvt Ltd signed a MoU for R&D in oncology.

Sagem Orga inaugurated a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Noida, near Delhi to serve telecommunication, banking and security markets throughout Asia-Pacific. SNCF signed a MoU with the ministry of railways. The French rail engineering consultant SYSTRA and Indian railways engineering consultant RITES signed an agreement for cooperation in the implementation of high speed rail lines in India. GIFA group signed a joint venture agreement with Cast Master for manufacturing of ambulances car based on a Tata Motors model.