Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux leads 40-member French delegation
Mr Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux, Head of MEDEF, leads 40-member delegation of French companies on four-day India visit.
Delhi-NCR - Hyderabad - Amaravati - Chennai, 24-27 September 2019
Mr Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux, President of MEDEF (French federation of entrepreneurs), led a 40-member delegation of French companies in India from 24th to 27th September 2019. He was accompanied by Mr Philippe Gautier, CEO - MEDEF International, and Mr Gerard Wolf, Chairman - Sustainable City Task Force of Medef International.
During their four-day trip, the delegation visited Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh) and Chennai. Comprising businesses of all sizes, the delegation included companies from all sectors of activity, ranging from transport and logistics, port and shipping, urban development and smart cities, agriculture and food processing, energy and environment, digital, bank and insurance, to legal services.
The MEDEF President’s India visit follows the bilateral talks held at the highest level, between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Emmanuel Macron in Chantilly, as well as at the G7 Summit held in Biarritz, France, in August. It also takes up from the last visit to India of the previous MEDEF President in September 2017.
In the first leg of their trip, New Delhi, Mr Roux de Bézieux and the delegation called on members of the Indian government: Shri Nitin Gadkari, Hon’ble Minister of Road Transport and Highways, and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises; Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Hon’ble Minister of Food Processing Industries; Shri Mansukh L. Mandaviya, Hon’ble Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Shipping. They also met Shri Durga Shankar Mishra, Secretary - Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, and Shri Anshu Prakash - Chairman DCC & Secretary (Telecommunications). Key issues concerning connectivity, sustainable transport, smart cities, water resource management and access to water, food conservation, where French companies have a recognized and valued know-how, were discussed during these meetings.
Mr Roux de Bézieux also held meetings with representatives of various international institutions that support many initiatives in India. He thus exchanged views with representatives from the International Finance Corporation, Asian Development Bank, French Development Agency (AFD) and Proparco (its private sector funding subsidiary), Japan International Cooperation Agency, Germany’s KfW and the European Development Bank.
The Ambassador-Designate of France to India, Mr Emmanuel Lenain, hosted a reception in their honour at the Residence of France in New Delhi. Addressing the gathering, Mr Lenain underscored the close relationship between India and France at the highest levels, and urged the business leaders to further enhance bilateral economic ties. He highlighted the opportunities offered by India to French companies possessing expertise in a wide spectrum of sectors, in which stakeholders from both countries could work together to their mutual benefit as well as support the Indian government’s ambitious national programmes.
In the second leg of their trip, the delegation split into two groups. One group travelled to Hyderabad, where they called on Shri Kalvakuntla Taraka Rama Rao, Hon’ble Minister of IT, Economy and Commerce, Municipal Administration and Urban Development of Telangana. They also visited the Safran Electrical and Power factory, a subsidiary of Safran specializing in electrical systems, as well as the T-HUB incubator for startups.
The other group proceeded to Amaravati, Andhra Pradesh, where they participated in roundtable discussions with various ministers, focusing on industry, technology, energy, agriculture, food processing, urban development and e-mobility. A meeting with Shri Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, concluded this sequence in the sunrise state.
On 27th September, the last leg of the tour, the entire delegation met up in Chennai, a city that is home to one of the biggest French manufacturing facilities in India. The delegation held discussions with the Tamil Nadu Guidance Bureau. This interaction was followed by an Economic Forum with the Confederation of Indian Industry, a visit of the Saint-Gobain R&D Centre and the IIT Madras Research Park, where they interacted with the students.
This visit was aimed at enabling leaders of the French business community to continue gauging business dynamics and growth in India, where numerous French companies are present. The extensive tour also demonstrated anew the willingness of the French business community to explore new opportunities and strengthen economic ties with all Indian states.
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Mr President of MEDEF,
A warm welcome in Delhi to you and all the accompanying members of the French delegation.
I am delighted to host you at a time when a very positive momentum has been set in motion. This is a sign that India is on the radars of the French industry. Which is just as well, because we French have numerous assets to highlight in this rapidly transforming country, which is also developing fast, and, in an international environment that it perceives as being increasingly uncertain, is reassessing its strategic partners.
The travel to four Indian cities of around forty French companies – from majors to micro enterprises, all characterized by dynamism and a spirit of innovation – is a message that we are sending to India. It is a message of our confidence in India, of our confidence in the reforms and changes in this country.
We are not, of course, building from scratch: India is a country with which our bilateral relations are remarkable – as shown once again by the recent visit to France by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as India’s participation in the G7 Summit in Biarritz.
I think that we have here a great opportunity. Particularly in a context in which India is affected by US trade policy, shaken by Brexit (the UK being India’s traditional foothold in Europe) and is concerned about China’s strategic and economic development.
Beyond a political and strategic relationship forged over decades on trust, we must remember the long-established presence of over 500 of our companies, an investment stock that ranks us among India’s topmost global investors, as well as topmost foreign employers (300 000 employees).
India is a country of challenges: 300 million new urban dwellers in the forthcoming fifteen years; infrastructure modernization at a forced pace; doubling of its power capacity by 2030, and the ambitious and courageous bet of renewable energy and green growth. What is at stake here and now is also the necessary and crucial invention of new models of urban living, of production.
To these Indian challenges, we reply that we are present. You reply that you are present. With our technologies, our investments, and our financing, too. This holds true for the Smart Cities Mission and major transport infrastructure; this holds true for power, a sector in which France today is a major player in solar energy and must remain so; this holds true for the defence sector, too, in which our companies have carved out their place as the partner of India’s strategic autonomy; this holds increasingly true for the high tech as well as food processing sectors.
Our key message must lie in convincing that we possess a part of the solutions for India’s challenges.
Of course, India remains a complex market, as mentioned this morning. Believing in India is not about yielding to a mirage. Conditions are still tough for our companies, the pace is slow, the decision making process often opaque. This is particularly true for our SMEs, which need fast tracking to gain access to the Indian market.
But Team France has solid assets to highlight:
- Make in India: the challenge of jobs, a major one for India, is also that of industrial localisation. Make in India should be integrated in your strategies. You already do this – and often much better than our competitors – but you must highlight it. For example, the new metro policy now requires 75% of rolling stock to be localized in India. This is a significant comparative advantage for us over Germany, Japan and China. But I also keep in mind job preservation in France, and hope that the endeavours you may carry out for your development in India will translate into positive terms, one way or another, for economy and employment in France.
- Innovate in India: This, too, is a French characteristic, with around 30 R&D centres in India. In the renewables sector particularly, it is in our interest to develop a technological partnership with India. True for many other sectors – from IT to automobile (Michelin) – our ability to innovate with India must be highlighted. In return, there’s better protection of intellectual property. We’re saying it.
The entire Team France in India – the Embassy, our consulates general, our agencies – are all by your side for promoting the wide gamut of what France has to offer and giving it all the visibility necessary for establishing France among India’s major economic partners.
I therefore thank you for undertaking this excellent MEDEF mission in India, and wish you a very fruitful trip!
Mr President, ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for your kind attention.
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