Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 6
India and France will hold their annual strategic dialogue on Wednesday.
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval will lead the Indian delegation while the French delegation will be led by Emmanuel Bonne, Diplomatic Advisor and G7-G20 Sherpa to the French President, stated an MEA news release.
Key focus areas of the talks would be Covid vaccines, cooperation within the Indo-Pacific area, nuclear, space maritime safety, environment, digital economy and defense cooperation.
The last strategic dialogue between the two countries was held in February last year in Paris.
With key interests in the Indian Ocean due to its overseas territories (Reunion Island and Mayotte) and 2.8 million square kilometres of EEZ, France is emerging as a key Indian partner in the Indian Ocean.
India recently signed a logistics sharing agreement with France that enables them to use each other’s military facilities.
French Navy is a constant presence in the Indian Ocean, supported by bases in Djibouti, Abu Dhabi, Reunion Island and Mayotte.
Bonne had last visited India in 2019, during which he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
India and France have often demonstrated solidarity with each other. In October, India had condoled the Paris knife attacks and had stood by the French President Emmanuel Macron when he came under criticism from some Islamic quarters including Pakistan.
India and France have had long-standing and robust economic and strategic ties. India has remained a recipient of French defence platforms such as helicopters, fighters and submarines for several decades.
French companies have been investing in renewable energy, defence, infrastructure and smart cities and pharmaceuticals and the Indian market offers them wide-ranging products for sourcing purposes. These can more than adequately fulfill supply chain requirements for French MNCs looking to diversify their import base.
Currently, the total trade in 2019 was $ 13 billion with Indian enjoying a slight advantage. Of the $ 6 billion in French exports to India, 40 per cent is accounted by helicopters, aero-planes, satellites and spacecraft launch vehicles. India’s $ 7 billion of exports to France are more diversified with only petroleum oils occupying a large share of 17 per cent.