France pushes economic agenda in India

There’s more to France’s interests in India than the Rafale fighter jet deal. French ambassador
Alexandre Ziegler, who is leading a 78-member delegation to the 9th edition of the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit, told ET’s
Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury in an interview that France has a huge stake in India’s economy. The delegation includes officials from 34 companies with expertise in areas such as aviation & logistics, banking & finance, energy, infrastructure, IT & telecommunications and smart city solutions.
Edited excerpts:

What does France aim to achieve through participation at Vibrant Gujarat? How can this contribute to the economic partnership?
Vibrant Gujarat has turned out to be one of the most significant economic events in India. France, as a major partner of India, had to be present, all the more so since numerous French companies have developed very well in Gujarat. Two years ago, Jean-Marc Ayrault, then minister for foreign affairs, led a large delegation, which interacted with other businesses and local authorities. This resulted in more trade in Gujarat, along with numerous investments.

Over the past two years, companies like Technip, Saint-Gobain and Bic inaugurated their manufacturing plants in Gujarat. EDF and Engie, two of the world’s major power producers, are building big power plants. SNF Floerger, in oil extraction chemistry, is working on building its second plant in India.

In a nutshell, we are in Gujarat because we want to expand our footprint there and we expect local authorities to support this commitment and help accelerate the projects.

What specific areas are French companies looking to invest in Gujarat?

French companies are committed to investing and innovating in India and they appreciate the huge opportunities offered by the country: its incomparable talent pool and its promising market. French companies are not here for the short term but for building a long-term relationship with India.

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Gujarat is a particularly attractive destination, with its stable and efficient governance, good infrastructure and business sense. Many of them work in Gujarat: EDF, Engie, Schneider Electric, Axens, Technip in the energy sector; Serap, Cemafroid or Roquette in the agricultural sector – Roquette, in fact, exports a large part of its Gujarat production to Africa. In smart cities and infrastructure, we are expanding our footprint, following the involvement of Lumiplan, Systra and Citelum, which is a global company that has set up its Indian headquarters in Ahmedabad.

How do you think Vibrant Gujarat will contribute to overall French investments in India?

French companies invest in India because they trust the country, its markets, its institutions and its people. Our participation in Vibrant Gujarat stems from a mutual trust built on people-to-people ties. They will be able to meet other business leaders, better understand each other’s needs and expectations and get new ideas. This is the basis of the long-lasting growth of our bilateral economic relations. A few MoUs will be signed on this occasion to accelerate investments and partnerships, but beyond this event, it is our long-term good relations that give rise to fruitful projects.

How important is Vibrant Gujarat as a global economic summit in the eyes of France?

Vibrant Gujarat is a testimony of India’s commitment to being business-friendly. We need certainty and clarity to further deepen our economic commitment in India. That’s basically what Vibrant Gujarat contributes to.


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