The bilateral trade between India and France worth $11 billion was far below potential, President Ram Nath Kovind today said, adding that the trade basket between the two countries could be diversified and new avenues explored. Welcoming French President Emmanuel Macron, Kovind said India's strategic ties with France had been expanding not just in traditional sectors of defence, space and civil nuclear energy, but also in the emerging areas of counter-terrorism and maritime and cybersecurity. "Our economic collaboration is on course. But we can do much better. Our bilateral trade of about USD 11 billion is far below potential. We need to diversify our trade basket and look for new avenues to boost trade," he said. The President noted that close to 1,000 French companies have invested in India, a Rashtrapati Bhavan statement said. "We value these investments and would encourage France to associate with our flagship initiatives such as Make in India, Skill India and Digital India," it quoted him as saying. Underlining that India accorded high priority to its strategic partnership with France, the President said,"Our traditional friendship is firmly rooted in the excellent bilateral understanding and mutual respect that we have. Our shared values of democracy, liberty, equality and fraternity bring us even closer". India commended France's efforts in the global fight against climate change and the two countries stood together in this endeavour, Kovind said. "Tomorrow, we are co-hosting the International Solar Alliance and the presence of the French President at the conference will take our climate partnership to newer heights," he said and expressed hope that the event would be able to make a mark globally in bridging the gap between affordable and clean energy.