16 Sep :Shri Kamal Nath, Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, has today said that in order to impart greater momentum to the growth in bilateral trade, we need to focus our efforts on widening the trade basket, increasing engagement at the level of SMEs (small and medium enterprises) and facilitating the trade in services. During the bilateral meeting with the French Minister of State for External Trade Mrs. Anne-Marie Idrac, here today, he stated that regular interaction between both sides would go a long way in providing useful opportunity to discuss means of strengthening the bilateral economic and commercial engagement. He further said: India is not only a competitive exporter of services but is also a large importer of services. Trade in services presents a large potential for growth. The forward movement on concluding the bilateral social security exemption agreement will provide a boost for efficient delivery of services at reduced costs. This will benefit economic operators on both sides". He said that France is an important trading partner for India and is in the top of 5 trading partners in the European Union.
Both the Ministers discussed about the review of Joint Working Groups on agriculture, information technology & telecom, transport sector, energy, mineral exploration etc.
In his opening remarks at the Indo-French Joint Committee Meeting (JCM), Shri Kamal Nath said that the mechanism of the JCM provides a useful forum to exchange views on the bilateral economic relationship and this creates confidence for businesses to engage bilaterally. He stated that businesspeople have to wade through a maze of regulations and compliance procedures to be able to trade. "We must do our best to make it easy for people to explore business and professional opportunities, although this is easier said than done", he further added. During the meeting, Shri Kamal Nath discussed about the delays and difficulties in getting visas and difficulties in compliance with standards. Shri G.K. Pillai, Secretary (Commerce); Shri Ajay Shankar, Secretary (DIPP); and senior officials from the Ministry of Power, Railways, Telecommunications, Urban Development, Road Transport & Highways, Mines, Posts and Information Technology, attended the meeting.
Indo-French bilateral trade during the year 2007-08 was to the tune of US $ 5.38 billion (exports – $ 2.54 billion and imports – $ 2.84 billion). India’s major exports to France during 2007-08 includes readymade cotton garments, machinery & instruments, transport equipments, petroleum, manufactures of metals etc., and the major imports from France includes machinery except electrical & electronics, transport equipments, iron & steel, gold chemical material & products.
The foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows from France during 1991 to March 2007) were US $ 895 million, and Indian investments in France were US $ 114 million. Sectors attracting French investments are: fuels (power & oil refinery), chemicals (other than fertilizers), cement & gypsum products, glass, food processing, services (financial & non-financial), electrical equipments (including computer software & electronics). Sectors of Indian Investments in France were: drugs & pharmaceuticals, iron & steel products and general items.