About Us Bilateral Brief

For MEA/EOI, Paris website

As of 12Feb 2019

Embassy of India


Political Wing

Brief on India-France Bilateral Relations 

In 1998, India and France established a Strategic Partnership which has since emerged as a close and growing bilateral relationship with a close convergence of views on a range of international issues.

2. The areas of defence & security cooperation, space cooperation and civil nuclear cooperation constitute the principal pillars of our Strategic Partnership. In addition, India and France are increasingly engaged in new areas of cooperation such as in the Indian Ocean region, climate change (including the International Solar Alliance) and sustainable growth & development, governance of cyberspace, among others.

3. In the economic domain, French businesses and enterprises have forged strong linkages with the Indian economy and industry. There exist vibrant bilateral cultural and educational linkages as also growing people-to-people contacts. Indian diaspora also has a sizable presence in metropolitan France and its overseas departments/territories.

4. India and France share a close degree of convergence on a range of regional and global issues. France has continued to support India’s claim for permanent membership of the Security Council and the reforms of the United Nations. France continues to support India’s bid for accession to the NSG. India and France are steadfast partners in the fight against climate change.

5. India and France have consistently condemned terrorism and have resolved to work together for adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) in the UN. Following the Pulwama attacks, France steadfastly supported India and nationally listed the Pakistan-based ‘global terrorist’ Hafiz Saeed, which was followed up with the listing at the UN.

Recent high level political exchanges

6. India and France have had regular exchange of visits at the highest level. Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi (PM) visited France in August 2019 at the special invitation of H.E. President Emmanuel Macron of France for the 2019 G-7 Summit, where India was one of the ‘Goodwill’ partners. The visit comprised two segments: the bilateral component (August 22-23 in Chantilly/Paris) and the G-7 related visit in Biarritz (August 25-26). On August 22, the two leaders met for a bilateral meeting in the historic chateau in Chantilly (north of Paris) which was followed by a joint press conference. The outcomes of the visit included a visit Joint Statement, the India-France Roadmap on Cybersecurity and Digital Technologies and 4 agreements/MoUs. On August 23, PM met the French Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Edouard Philippe and later addressed the Indian community in Paris. PM subsequently visited Biarritz (south-west France) on August 25-26 to participate in the G-7 Summit. He participated in the sessions on environment and on digital democracy.

7. PM and President Emmanuel Macron of France held a pull aside meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 2019 in Osaka in June 2019. They also had a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 2018 in December 2018 in Buenos Aires.

8. Hon’ble Vice-President Shri Venkaiah Naidu represented India at the commemorative ceremony of World War-I Armistice centenary and also participated in the inaugural Paris Peace Forum on November 11, 2018 in Paris. He inaugurated the memorial for fallen Indian soldiers at Villiers Guislan on November 10. He also addressed the Indian community on November 9.

9. French President H.E. Emmanuel Macron and First Lady H.E. Mrs. Brigitte Macron paid a State Visit to India from 10-12 March 2018 during which they visited New Delhi, Agra, Mirzapur and Varanasi. After the ceremonial welcome in New Delhi, President Macron and Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi held official talks. Fourteen inter-governmental agreements were signed following the talks including one for the provision of reciprocal logistics support between the respective Armed Forces. In addition to the visit Joint Statement, a "Joint Strategic Vision of India-France Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region” and the "India-France Joint Vision for Space Cooperation” were also issued. The Hon’ble President of India hosted a banquet in honor of President Macron as also delegations of other countries who had assembled in New Delhi for the Founding Conference of the International Solar Alliance (ISA).

10. The ISA Founding Conference was held in New Delhi on 11 March co-chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Macron. On 12 March, President Macron and Prime Minister Modi visited Mirzapur to inaugurate a 100 MW solar power park built by the French firm Engie. During the visit, the India-France CEO's’ Forum also met which presented its report to the two leaders. Fourteen B2B agreements were also signed. A Knowledge Summit was also held bringing together higher educational institutions from both sides to boost cooperation in the field of education, research and student mobility.

11. Other high level interactions in the past include:

  • PM met the French Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Edouard Philippe on the sidelines of the World Government Summit in Dubai on 11 February 2018 and discussed issues of mutual interest.
  • PM had visited France on 2-3 June 2017 and met President Emmanuel Macron. This was the first ever meeting between the two leaders which took place soon after President Macron took over the office of the President of the French Republic following his victory in the French Presidential elections in May 2017.
  • The previousFrench President H.E. Francois Hollande had visited India from 24-26 January 2016 as the chief guest of India’s Republic Day celebrations. In a historic first, a French military contingent also marched on Rajpath on the Republic Day and thus France became the first ever foreign country to have been invited to participate in the march.
  • PM had visited Paris on 29-30 November 2015 to attend the inaugural Leaders’ Event at the COP-21 Climate Change Summit. He launched the International Solar Alliance jointly with then French President Hollande in the presence of the then UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki Moon.
  • PM paid an official visit to France from 09-12 April 2015 in his first visit to a European country as the Prime Minister.

Recent Ministerial Visits from India

12. External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar visited Paris on November 11-12, 2019 and held talks with Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, France’s Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs. The two ministers discussed issues of bilateral partnership and international importance. EAM also attended the 2nd edition of the Paris Peace Forum where he participated in a high-level panel-discussion on multilateral governance of cyberspace. He also called on the French President on the sidelines of the Forum. EAM later addressed a gathering of prominent business-representatives and think-tank members and gave an interview to French daily newspaper Le Monde.

13. Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh visited Paris on October 07-10, 2019, for the second bilateral Ministerial-level Annual Defence Dialogue with his counter-part Ms. Florence Parly, France’s Minister for the Armed Forces. During the visit, RM also called on the French President Mr. Emmanuel Macron and interacted with heads of key French defence industry enterprises. RM also visited Bordeaux to attend the handing over ceremony of the first Rafale fighter aircraft to be acquired from France under the Inter-Governmental contract signed in September 2016. He also visited select defence industry sites in France.

14. MoS External Affairs Shri V. Muraleedharan visited Reunion Island from October 23-24, 2019, along with an Indian business delegation to participate in a summit meeting on “Regional Economic Integration in the Indo-Pacific” organized by France. He held conversations with several French Ministers and also called-on French President Emmanuel Macron. Several other Ministerial visits from India have also taken place on a regular basis.

15. From the French side, H.E. Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, France’s Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs visited New Delhi from December 14-15, 2018 and held talks with the former External Affairs Minister Mrs. Sushma Swaraj. The two ministers discussed issues of bilateral partnership and international importance. Other recent Ministerial visits from the French sideto Indiahave been those of Minister of Culture Franck Riester (27-28 January 2020); the Secretary of State to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne (10 June 2019); and, the visit of Secretary of State to the Minister for Ecological and Inclusive Transition, Ms. Brune Poirson (30 October - 1 November 2019) to co-preside over the 2nd Assembly of the International Solar Alliance. Mr. Jean – Baptiste Lemoyne also met EAM Dr. S.Jaishankar on the sidelines of G20 Foreign Ministers meeting in Nagoya,Japan on November 23,2019. At the Parliamentary level, President of the India-France Friendship group in the National Assembly Ms. Celine Calvez visited India on 27-28 January 2020. French delegation comprising of senior government officials took part in the Raisina Diaogue on 14-16 January 2020.

16. In addition, India and France share a range of regular official & institutional dialogue mechanisms encompassing areas such as security & defence, economy & trade as well as people to people-to-people, scientific and cultural domains.

Defence Cooperation

17. During the visit of President Macron to India (March 2018), the two countries decided to create an annual defence dialogue at the Ministerial level, the first of which was held in October 2018 as mentioned above. Regular working level meetings as well as exchange of visits at the level of Services Chiefs also take place. The three services also have regular defence exercises; viz. Exercise Shakti (Army; the last one took place in November 2018 in India), Exercise Varuna (Navy; May 2019 in Goa/Djibouti) and Exercise Garuda (Air Force; July 2019 in France).

18. The major on-going defense-related projects are the following:

  • Purchase of Rafale aircraft:The Inter-governmental agreement for purchase of 36 Rafale jets by India in flyaway condition was signed in New Delhi on 23 September 2016. Project implementation is underway.
  • P-75 Scorpene Project: The contract for six Scorpene submarines from M/s DCNS (now Naval Group) was signed in October 2006. All six vessels are to be built under technology transfer at the Mazagaon Docks Ltd. Project implementation is underway. The first submarine INS Kalvari was commissioned in December 2017.

Space Cooperation

19. India and France have a rich history of cooperation in the field of space for over fifty years with ISRO and the French Space Agency, CNES carrying on various joint research programmes and launch of satellites. A joint stamp was released to commemorate fifty years of bilateral space cooperation during the visit of PM Modi to France in April 2015.

20. Building on the historical linkages in the arena of civilian space, both India and France issued a “Joint Vision for Space Cooperation” during the visit of President Macron to India (March 2018). The Joint Vision spells out the concrete areas of future cooperation in this field. The two sides have jointly developed Megha-Tropiques satellite providing valuable scientific data. As part of ongoing bilateral cooperation between ISRO and Arianespace, GSAT-11 was launched from Kourou (French Guyana) in December 2018. The two countries are also cooperating in the training of medical support personnel for Indian astronauts, who will be part of India’s manned space mission by 2022, as was decided during PM Modi's visit to Chantilly in August 2019. An Implementing Arrangement between ISRO and CNES France for Joint Maritime Domain Awareness was also signed during this visit. France continues to be a major supplier of components and equipment for the Indian space programme.

Civil Nuclear Cooperation

21. An agreement on civil nuclear cooperation was signed between India and France on 30 September 2008 during the visit of then Prime Minister of India to France. Under that framework, the French utility company EDF and NPCIL signed a (revised) MoU on 22 March 2016 for the construction of six EPR units at Jaitapur of 1650 MWe each.

22. During the visit of President Macron to India (March 2018), NPCIL and EDF concluded an Industrial Way Forward Agreement. Discussions between EDF and NPCIL have been ongoing with the objective of expeditious realization of the project.

Economic Cooperation

23. Both India and France have important bilateral investments and trade and commercial cooperation. Almost 1000 French companies are present in India with a total turnover of US$ 20 billion and employing around 300,000 persons. France is the ninth largest foreign investor in India with cumulative investment of USD 6.59 billion from April 2000 to December 2018. In France, about 150 Indian companies are present (including sub-subsidiaries) with an estimated investment stock of Euro one billion and employing 7000 people.

24. In the period April 2018 to March 2019, India-France bilateral trade stood at USD 11.89 billion (+4.15%) as compared to the corresponding period the previous financial year. India’s exports to France were valued at USD 5.23 billion, up 6.78%. Meanwhile, French exports to India increased by 2.17% during the same period to USD 6.66 billion. However, the overall volume of bilateral trade remains low; trade with France constituting only 1.41% of India’s total international trade.

25. A Joint Economic Committee exists at the level of Ministers of Commerce from both sides. The latest round of the Joint Committee Meeting took place in Paris on 24 October 2017. Bilateral joint working groups in various fields which exist are: (i) IT & Tele-communications; (ii) Roads; (iii) Sustainable Urban Development; (iv) Agriculture and Food Processing; (v) Mineral Exploration and Development; (vi) Energy; and (vii) Post. An India-France CEOs’ Forum also meets annually at the level of top CEOs from either side.

Cultural/Tourism Cooperation

26. Indian culture enjoys wide following amongst the people of France. An Indian Cultural Centre, named Vivekananda Cultural Centre, currently under renovation, is to be opened in Paris.

27. The Namasté France cultural festival was held in France from 15 September to 30 November 2016. The festival saw more than 80 events presented in more than 40 cities in France and proved to be a great success. The French cultural festival Bonjour India was held in India from November 2017 to February 2018. India will be the Country of Honour for the 2020 edition of Livre Paris, the Paris international book fair. India will organise Namasté France again in 2021-2022. A Cultural Exchange Programme is under implementation.

28. The International Day of Yoga has been organized by the Embassy of India, Paris in Paris and in other cities of France since 2016 and which have received wide acclaim and press coverage. Year long celebrations have also been organized to commemorate 150th Birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, 550th Birth anniversary of Shri Gurunanak Devji, and the 70th year of the Constitution of India.

29. In 2018, 700 000 Indian tourists visited France, 17 % more than in 2017 and more than 250,000 French tourists visited India.

S&T/Education Cooperation

30. In the field of S&T, the Indo-French Centre for the Promotion of Advance Research (CEFIPRA) based in New Delhi established in 1987 is playing a major role by funding joint proposals for research in sciences and evaluation existing research projects. Several other bilateral cooperation programmes exist including an Indo-French Ministerial-level Joint Committee on Science and Technology, established in 2016.

31. It is estimated that there are about 10000 Indian students in France. Encouraged by offer of courses in English medium in the French institutes of higher education, especially in the field of business management, more than 3,000 new Indian students come to France every year.

32. During the visit of Prime Minister Modi to France in April 2015, the two sides decided to facilitate professional experience for their students in both countries after the completion of their academic courses. An Agreement on the mutual recognition of degrees has been signed between the two sides to facilitate the pursuit of higher education by Indian students in France and French students in India and increase their employability; this Agreement has already entered into force.

33. During the visit of Prime Minister Modi to Chantilly (August 2019), the two sides encouraged their respective Universities and academic institutes to increase the number and quality of student exchanges with the aim of reaching the number of 25,000 students by 2025. During this visit, an Administrative Arrangement was also signed between the two countries for Cooperation in Skill Development and Vocational Training.

Indian community in France

34. It is estimated that the Indian community, including NRIs in mainland France number around 109,000, largely originating from French enclaves of Puducherry, Karaikal, Yanam, Mahe and Chandernagore. Sizeable number of Indian origin population lives in the French Overseas Territories of the Reunion Island (280,000), Guadeloupe (60,000), Maritinique (6,000) and Saint Martin (300). There are more than 50 Indian community organizations active in France. Major communities constituting the Indian origin population originate from Puducherry and Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Punjab.

34. During the visit of President Macron to India (March 2018), the two sides signed a Migration and Mobility Partnership Agreement which aims to facilitate temporary circular migration based on mobility and the encouragement for a return of skills to the home country.