Indo-French Strategic Dialogue

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    Context

    • Recently, the National Security Advisor (NSA) of India held the 36th round of the Indo-French Strategic Dialogue with his French counterpart. 

    Key Outcomes of the 36th round of the Indo-French Strategic Dialogue

    • Both participants agreed to intensify efforts “towards strategic autonomy”.
    • The two sides held discussions on a variety of issues:
    • The current global security situation in the context of the conflict in Ukraine
    • Regional security in the context of Afghanistan
    • Counter-terrorism
    • Cyber security
    • Defence cooperation in the Indo-Pacific
    • Other issues of mutual concern.
    • PM Modi and Diplomatic Adviser to the President of France also discussed areas like “energy and culture”.
    • The discussions reflected closeness in views of both India and France on all major international issues. 
    • The France-India strategic partnership is key to tackling the pressing challenges of 2023. 
    • France’s “full support” for India’s G-20 Presidency.

    India- France Relations

    • Strategic Relationship:
      • Genesis: After India’s 1998 nuclear tests, France was the first country to initiate a Strategic Dialogue with India. By displaying a greater understanding of India’s security compulsions as compared to other countries, France refused to impose bilateral sanctions on India. 
      • India-France strategic partnership is based on “exceptional mutual trust, shared democratic values and a joint vision for a multipolar, rules-based world order”
    • Economic Relationship:
    • Bilateral trade with France has witnessed a steady rise in the last decade reaching USD 10.75 billion in 2020. 
    • Investment: France ranks 9th in foreign investment in India.The two sides have recognised the importance of fast tracking the discussions on an India-EU trade and investment agreement.
    • Companies: More than 150 Indian companies are operational in France & more than 1000 French companies are present in India with turnover of $20 billion
    • Defense Relationship:
      • India-France conducts a defense dialogue at the ministerial level. 
      • Joint defense exercises between the Air forces (Garuda series) and the Armies (Shakti), Navies (Varuna) are conducted regularly.
      • P-75 Scorpene Dea 2005: An agreement for building six Scorpène submarines under technology transfer at Mazagaon Docks Ltd. in India with French help.
      • Technology sharing and acquisitions of short-range missiles and radar equipment were concluded.
      • Rafale deal: The government-to-government agreement for 36 French Rafale multi-role combat aircrafts has taken place. 
      • Proposals in line: 
    • India is close to taking a decision on a fighter jet to fly off the Navy’s aircraft carriers (Boeing’s F-18 Super Hornet or Dassault Aviation’s Rafael-M)
    • India is also mulling over procuring 26 jets (probably Rafale, as per official sources).  
    • Safran of France is competing with other global engine manufacturers to co-develop a fighter jet engine with the DRDO.
    • Energy Sector Cooperation:
    • Nuclear Reactors: An agreement was signed a decade ago for building six European Pressurized (Nuclear) Reactors (EPR) with a total capacity of 9.6 GW.
    • The International Solar Alliance was launched jointly by India and France.
    • Science & Technology:
    • Gaganyan Mission: Both the countries have signed a cooperation agreement for the Gaganyan Mission of India.
    • The French space agency will support India’s scientific experiments by providing French equipment and medical instruments for Indian astronauts.
    • Joint Satellite Mission TRISHNA: TRISHNA is meant for ecosystem monitoring and water use monitoring and it is the 3rd joint mission of ISRO and CNES. 
    • Maritime cooperation:
    • India and France share concern about China’s growing presence in the Indian Ocean Region. France showed more willingness to cooperate with India after the launch of AUKUS.
    • French overseas territories in the Indian and the Pacific Oceans provide it with the second-largest exclusive economic zone globally. It has long maintained bases in Reunion Islands and Djibouti and established one in Abu Dhabi in 2009.
    • Strengthening cooperation with France (the western Indian Ocean Region) makes eminent strategic sense even as India develops its presence in Oman (Duqm) and Seychelles (Assumption Island).
    • Indo-French Naval Cooperation: Naval cooperation in the Gulf area where France has a base (in Abu Dhabi) for securing sea lanes of communication, and combating piracy, transnational crime & terrorism by fostering capabilities in the Indian and Pacific oceans.  

    Significance of India-France Relationship

    • Support to India’s vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat by France along with reiteration of support for defense industrialisation, joint research and cutting edge technology development in India.
    • Post-Brexit, Indian companies can look at France as an entry point to Europe.
    • No Money for Terror-an international conference on fighting terrorist financing is ardently advocated by both India and France at UN Platform.
    • Shared Vision of multipolar world order. 
    • India’s claim to UNSC Permanent membership has been continuously backed by France.
    • India’s membership to the Multilateral Export Control Regimes like NSG, MTCR has been always supported by France.
    • Reciprocal Logistics Support Agreement to facilitate fuel replenishment and maintenance of each other’s warships, military aircrafts and troops during port calls and disaster relief.

    Source: TH