New Delhi: India and France are expected to sign a slew of pacts on research and development, transport, education and culture during French President Francois Hollande’s visit to India this week, a person close to the developments said.
But big ticket deals, like the more than $12 billion Rafale deal for the Indian Air Force and the pact for six European Pressurised Reactors (EPR), will not happen, said French ambassador to India Francois Richier.
India is the first Asian country Hollande is visiting after being elected president in May last year, Richier said, adding that this signalled the importance France attaches to ties with one of Asia’s fastest-growing economies.
Hollande will be accompanied by five ministers, including foreign minister Laurent Fabius, and a 45-member business delegation. Besides talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other key leaders, Hollande will address industrialists in Delhi and India’s financial capital Mumbai.
Though a final pact on the 126 aircraft for the Indian Air Force from French company Dassault Aviation SA will not be signed this week, a pact for cooperation between the French national Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer railway company—which operates the high-speed Train de Grande Vitesse—and Indian Railways is expected to be signed.
France is looking at helping India start a high-speed train service connecting Mumbai and Ahmedabad, the commercial capital of Gujarat, the person cited earlier said, declining to be named.
“About a dozen pacts in research and development are expected to be signed, we are working on that,” this person said, adding that education and culture were the other areas where the two countries could sign pacts.
Besides this, France is hoping to close a deal for civilian helicopters, the person added.
French investment in India has crossed $17 billion since 1991 and some 700 French companies or their subsidiaries have offices in India, according to Richier.
Bilateral trade, however, was nowhere near the target of €12 billion by 2012 that was set in 2008 during a visit by the then French President Nicholas Sarkozy.
Last year, bilateral trade was €8 billion due to the economic slowdown in India and Europe, Richier said in a speech at the Observer Research Foundation.
Both sides are also working on an intergovernmental pact on migration and mobility and hope to conclude it this year, Richier added.