Discuss the significance of the India-France strategic partnership and also examine why, despite increasing collaboration, the economic relationship between India and France has not yet reached its full potential.

Why?

Emmanuel Macron’s visit caps a milestone year for India-France ties – the 25th anniversary of their strategic partnership.

Approach:

Start with an introduction that highlights the strategic autonomy of India and France, drawing them closer in international relations.

In the main body, talk about the significance by addressing dimensions like defense, Indo-Pacific, space cooperation, civil nuclear energy, etc.

Then address the reasons for subpar performance of the economic relations and suggest some measures to reach full potential.

Conclude by emphasizing the evolving nature of this partnership, potential for future growth, underscoring its significance in the global context.

Model Answer:

The India-France strategic partnership, established in 1998, has been significantly strengthened by both nations’ exercise of strategic autonomy in the international arena. This approach has brought India and France closer, particularly in recent years, fostering a robust and multifaceted alliance. This partnership is a cornerstone of India’s foreign policy, particularly in balancing global geopolitical dynamics.

Significance of the India-France Strategic Partnership:

  • Defense Collaboration: is highlighted by the Rafale jet deal, enhancing India’s air power. France’s support of Make in India through the Airbus C295 deal, joint engine development for helicopters and regular joint military exercises demonstrates the growing scope and importance of defense ties.
    • France is India’s second largest arms supplier after Russia.
  • Indo-Pacific Strategy: Alignment on Indo-Pacific interests, intelligence sharing, and maritime security contributes to regional stability and security.
  • International Support: France’s support for India’s seat in UN Security Council and various control regimes like MTCR, Wassenaar Arrangement, NSG, etc. underscores the strategic alignment in global affairs.
  • Space Cooperation: The long-standing collaboration in space technology between ISRO and CNES has significantly contributed to India’s space missions, with France being a key supplier of components.
  • Civil Nuclear Energy: the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project, marks France’s role in India’s civil nuclear energy sector, despite slow progress.
  • Economic Ties: are marked by significant business presence, trade, and investment.
    • Over 1,000 French companies operate in India across various sectors like manufacturing, services, and technology, while more than 200 Indian companies are established in France.
  • Digital Innovation and Collaboration: including the development of advanced supercomputers, enabling UPI payments in France, etc. showcase a strong partnership in the tech sector.
  • Education and Culture: The growing number of Indian students in France and cultural exchanges highlight the strengthening educational and cultural ties.
  • Tourism: The mutual interest in tourism, especially French tourists’ preference for destinations like Rajasthan, demonstrates strong people-to-people connections.

Despite robust strategic cooperation, the economic dimension of the partnership is under-realized, marked by limited trade volume compared to its potential. The bilateral trade between India and France have remained steady between $11-12 billion range in last 5 years. It has increased to $13.4 billion in 2022-23, with exports from India crossing $7 billion.

Reasons for Economic Relations not Reaching Full Potential:

  • Restricted market access in key sectors have limited the scope of bilateral trade.
  • Differences in regulatory standards and practices pose challenges to seamless economic exchanges.
  • India’s economic engagements with other major economies sometimes overshadow the scope of its relationship with France.
  • Limited understanding of mutual business opportunities impedes deeper economic engagements.
  • Fewer high-level economic discussions compared to other strategic partnerships restrict potential growth in economic ties.

Measures Taken to Improve Economic Relations:

  • Efforts to finalize the India-EU Free Trade Agreement will open new avenues for trade and investment.
  • Promoting business delegations and participation in trade fairs to foster direct business links.
  • Encouraging collaborative research and development in technology and innovation.
  • Efforts to align regulatory frameworks and simplify business processes to attract more French investment in India.

The India-France strategic partnership is multifaceted and holds tremendous potential, especially in the economic domain. President Macron’s recent visit symbolizes a renewed commitment to deepening these ties.

‘+1’ Value Addition:

Under the Horizon 2047 framework, India and France have established three essential pillars to further deepen their enduring partnership:

  • Partnership for security and sovereignty
  • Partnership for the planet
  • Partnership for the people
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