36th India-France Strategic Dialogue

36th India-France Strategic Dialogue

News: Recently, India-France Strategic Dialogue between National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Diplomatic Adviser to the President of France, Emmanuel Bonne was held in New Delhi. 

Key outcomes:
• India and France reiterated their commitment to take forward their strategic partnership to ensure peace, stability and security in the Indo-Pacific based on common beliefs in the rules-based international order and strategic autonomy.
• Both sides reiterated that in view of the emerging uncertainties and volatile global security environment, there was a need for closer cooperation between India and France, including in the UNSC and other multilateral forums.
Key Details about India-France Relations:

Economic Relations:
• France is the 7th largest foreign investor in India with a cumulative FDI stock of USD 9 billion from 2000 to 2020, which represents 2 % of the total FDI inflows into India.
• In FY 2020-21, bilateral trade stood at $ 9.12 Bn and has increased to $ 9.87 Bn during the period April 2021 – January 2022.
• Launch of Unified Payment Interface (UPI) in France
• “Co-localisation of production” with India as a priority indicates urgency to take steps for ensuring a more diversified and stable Indo-Pacific and global periphery.

Security Relations:
• Bilateral defence ties are in fine fettle and France has largely stuck to the promised delivery of Rafale aircrafts to India.
• The challenge here is to move from a buyer-seller relationship to an investor-investee one by making defence equipment in India accompanied by a transfer of technology.
• India and France have conducted joint patrols from the Reunion Island for the first time.
• Bilateral Military exercises – Exercise Shakti (Army), Exercise Varuna (Navy) and Exercise Garuda (Airforce). 

Environment and Ecology:
• India will be the first “country of honour” at the Sea Tech . Week in Brest, France, a major international event bringing together Blue Economy stakeholders.
• France announced its support for Prime Minister Modi’s Lifestyle for the Environment (LIFE) initiative. 
• Regarding solar alliance, India has started having annual summits with France and Germany from 2000.

Technology:
• A Joint Vision for space cooperation was concluded in 2018. The vision document talks of bringing societal benefits of space technology, situational awareness in space domain and cooperation in satellite navigation and related technologies.
• Co-operation and acceleration of Jaitapur Nuclear power plant project (could be nation’s largest nuclear power site once completed) must be key to further deepen ties as far as technology and clean energy is concerned. 
• France also has a special tech visa for Indian engineers, enabling robust exchanges.
• Digital cooperation is being stepped up in cyber security and on building standards for public digital infrastructure.

Way Forward:
• France holds the rotating presidency of the EU. In this context, discussion on FTA and the Investment Agreement that India is negotiating with the EU and persuade France to weigh in favorably with the Brussels bureaucracy and other stakeholders.
• More can be done in the area of digital sovereignty where India is a potential model for France with its use of open platforms and open-source public goods like India Stack and MOSIP; regulation, especially personal data empowerment and protection; health data and health tech.
• France and India must now invest in preventing digital platforms from being weaponised and avert threats to critical infrastructure.
• Accelerate investment between two countries in low carbon alternatives like wind, solar PV, biomethane, heat pumps, nuclear and clean hydrogen.
• India has the market, France has the technology and capital, and the EU has the political will and incentives to drive the transition to green hydrogen. 

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