H.E. Ms. Catherine Colonna, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, is on an official visit to India from 13-15 September 2022.
2. External Affairs Minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar, hosted the visiting Foreign Minister for bilateral talks at Hyderabad House on 14 September 2022. Both Ministers reaffirmed their shared commitment to deepening the India-France Strategic Partnership in view of continuously evolving geopolitics, particularly in the Indo-Pacific, where both countries are resident powers. The Ministers welcomed the expansion of bilateral relations to new areas like the Blue Economy and Ocean Governance and took stock of the progress on the bilateral roadmap that India and France adopted in February 2022. As part of the roadmap on Blue Economy, India will be the “Country of Honour” at the soon to be held ‘Sea Tech Week’ in Brest, France which would bring together blue economy stakeholders on both sides. The two Ministers also expressed support for the first Dialogue on Blue Economy which is to be held in the coming weeks and look forward to deepening the technical cooperation between Indian & French institutions.
3. The Ministers also appreciated progress in other existing areas of cooperation, including defence, civil nuclear, space, among others. They particularly welcomed the recent momentum on bilateral cooperation in the digital sphere, with the successful ‘VivaTech Summit 2022’ where India participated as the “Country of the Year”. VivaTech witnessed participation of a large number of Indian startups as well as Indian multinationals showcasing their innovations, and also provided an opportunity for interaction between Indian and French startup ecosystems. Both Ministers welcomed the launch of India’s Unified Payment Interface (UPI) in France, a result of the signature of an MoU between the National Payments Corporation of India and Lyra Networks of France. On defence industry cooperation, the Ministers welcomed Safran Group’s decision to set up their largest and first aircraft engine MRO (maintenance, repair, and overhaul) facility in Hyderabad. The facility will be set up with an investment of Rs 1200 crore ($150 million) and is expected to create about 1,000 high-skilled jobs in Telangana.
4. Dr. S. Jaishankar and Ms. Colonna also welcomed the resumption of negotiations on the India-EU trade and investment agreements and agreement on geographical indicators. The Indian side appreciated France’s efforts during its Presidency of the EU Council to ensure the restart of the trade negotiations. Both sides agreed that early conclusion of the agreements would further accelerate the steady rise in bilateral trade which reached USD 9.87 billion during the period April 2021 – January 2022. The two Ministers also welcomed the conclusion of new projects in the area of bilateral development cooperation, including the Credit Facility Agreement between the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance and the French Development Agency (Agence française de développement or AFD) for the drinking water project in Chandigarh and the support provided by Proparco, AFD’s private sector development subsidiary, and others European partners, to Sahyadri Farms, Maharashtra, the first farmer-led Indian company.
5. On people-to-people ties, the two ministers reiterated their commitment towards practical implementation of the India-France Migration and Mobility Partnership Agreement, which entered into force on 1 October 2021, for the benefit of the youth of the two countries. Both sides agreed to formally launch the scheme for the Exchange of Young Professionals from the age group of 18 to 35 years. Access to the respective labour markets of India and France will be facilitated for Young Professionals who are willing to contribute to the deepening of the economic, scientific and technological, and cultural ties between the two countries. The scheme will be effective immediately with the issue of as many as 500 visa permits per year by each side. The two ministers shared the ambition to further raise the number of beneficiaries of the YPS. Both Ministers also welcomed the successful organisation of the 4th Bonjour India festival across the length and breadth of the country to celebrate 75 years of Indian Independence along with 75 years of Diplomatic relations between India and France, and look forward to the reciprocal Namasté France festival to be held in early 2023. The Ministers also reviewed the progress on the Indo-French Campus for Health which will be a joint venture of Indo-French academic partners who will establish 100% double degrees (1 Indian degree + 1 French degree) in English. France was also invited to join the Raisina Forum for Future of Diplomacy which aims to build a network of diplomats engaged with political and economic developments with the capacity to analyse emerging and complex global issues.
6. Dr. Jaishankar and Ms. Colonna also discussed a number of regional, global and multilateral issues including the current conflict in Europe, the forthcoming UN General Assembly, the ongoing close cooperation between the two countries in the UN Security Council and India’s priorities for the upcoming G20 Presidency. The Ministers welcomed the inaugural meeting of the Focal Points of the India-France-UAE Trilateral Framework and urged the officials to prepare an agreed roadmap for cooperation. Both Ministers also expressed their interest in resuming cooperation under the India-France-Australia Trilateral mechanism. The ministers looked forward to the trilateral ministerial meeting to be held in New York on the sidelines of the UNGA, later this month. As part of their cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, both Ministers agreed to work towards the establishment of an Indo-Pacific Trilateral Development Cooperation Fund to support India-based innovators and start-ups in taking their innovations to third countries, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region, while also exploring opportunities to undertake development projects under the framework of the International Solar Alliance and its STAR-C project to which France contributed one million euros.
7. Ms. Colonna also called on Prime Minister Modi and conveyed President Macron’s message of friendship and cooperation. PM Modi fondly recalled his recent meetings with President Macron in Paris and Schloss Elmau, Germany, and conveyed his desire to welcome the President in India at an early opportunity. Ms. Colonna also informed PM Modi that France supports Mission LiFE that he announced at COP26 in Glasgow in 2021.
8. In the second leg of her tour, Ms. Colonna will be in Mumbai on 15 September 2022 where she will visit Mazagon Dockyard Limited where the Indo-French cooperation on the P75 submarine project in being undertaken. She will also meet Indian business representatives in Mumbai and will participate in a Conference on the Indo-Pacific organised by the Observer Research Foundation.
September 14, 2022