Visit of PM Narendra Modi: Indo-French CEO Forum

Introductory remarks by H.E. Mr Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development at the Indo-French CEO Forum ahead of the visit of the PM of India, Shri Narendra Modi to France.

Paris, 9 April 2015

- To download the images of the Indo-French CEO Forum, visit Flickr page of the French Embassy.

Well ladies and gentlemen,
I have prepared some words in French but I understand that today, if you promise me not to repeat it outside this ministry, I will speak English.

Firstly, thank you so much for being here ; make yourself at home, because it’s a nice home and it’s your home. And I am very pleased to welcome all of you, because I think this session and the next three days will be particularly important and I would like to thank you for the time you have taken in order to be here and to be active in order to build this new vibrancy that you were alluding to.

The context of this forum is a bit particular. First, because as you pointed out this forum takes place just one day before the very important visit of Prime Minister Modi. We attach a great importance to this visit. It’s the first that the Prime Minister visits our country in an official capacity. I remember from our last conversation with him that he has been here before, but that was a long time ago and I know that he is very keen about coming here as he has chosen, for his tour in Europe, France as his first stop, and we attach, because of the importance of India as an exceptional partner, a great importance to this visit. We are working with India in many strategic domains, defence, space, civil nuclear energy, and we do that in India in such a way that we don’t have to face any other non-European countries over the world. And we are one of the first foreign investors in India. We have, and this is always an important thing, common values, a common vision of the world and all that leads to the particular context of the visit of Prime Minister Modi, which I am sure will be a great success.

Now the second element which makes this forum a particular one, is the one you probably have seen when you entered this ministry. We are preparing the great COP21, the climate conference that we shall host at the end of this year, and that I will personally preside over. I remember that France was chosen to host the conference three years ago. The choice was rather easy because we were the only candidate. And when we were chosen, people came to me and said, and at that time I didn’t exactly understand those words, they said to me "Mr Minister, Good luck !". And now I understand exactly what it meant.
But it is true that we have, all of us throughout the world, and it is true for India, true for France and true for all the countries, to try and do our best in order to reach a success in this COP21. On this issue, and we shall have the opportunity to discuss it with Prime Minister Modi himself, India has a particular position, and we French have to understand this particular position because of the size of India, because of number of population in terms of what we call emission -India is an important emitter. But at the same time if you link it to the number of inhabitants, it’s a very, very small emission. And I know that Prime Minister Modi, not only when he became Prime Minister but before when he was Chief Minister in Gujarat, is particularly keen about the development of new technologies, the fact that there are immense improvements to bring to the population in terms of new renewable resources, solar energy, different forms of energy. It is in that spirit that we shall discuss about this important subject with all of you and with Prime Minister Modi.

Precisely, I understand that among the main domains that you have chosen for this forum - and I understand that tomorrow you will report to the French President and to Indian Prime minister - two or three elements are of particular importance.

The first one is, obviously, energy. This sector of energy, generally speaking, and particularly renewable energies, is quite dynamic in India, particularly in the domain of solar energy, and French firms are producing an important part of the capacity in that domain. French expertise is at disposal in India and other technologies, like wind energy, blue energies, biomass, hydroelectricity, and so on. And our cooperation in this domain is a pillar of our strategic partnership and we must understand and we must know what we can do in this domain, taking into consideration what has been called the “Make in India” formula. And I think we have to work in order to have a partnership of a very, very important size between India and France in this domain and also, obviously, in the domain of nuclear energy.

A second topic for your work will be water. There has been a large plan, which has been launched by Prime Minister Modi in this sector, and more generally a plan about urbanization, this famous 100 smart cities plan. A lot of investments are affected and our companies are already committed on the ground, side by side with Indian companies, and we are bringing our know-how and our equipmenst for serious investments: subway, water distribution, waste and energy efficiency of buildings, lighting and so on. And we think that in this domain, generally speaking, we have a lot of things to do together.

And finally I know that you will discuss cross investments. In fact, when I am looking at the figures – and we are here to say things directly – the number of investments in India from French companies is much higher than vice versa. I understand that the stock of French investments in India is about 19 billion USD for 280,000 jobs with a lot of projects for the years to come. So far as India is concerned, the stock of Indian investments in France is only 500 million euros and 7,000 jobs. It means that we have a lot of efforts to do on both sides, in order to have a improvement in those domains. My special representative, Mr Hermelin – I thank him very much for his work, which is excellent - has explained to you in diplomatic terms – but I am not a diplomat – that we have to find the ways and means to develop these cross investments and know exactly why Indian investments in particular are so weak, the reasons. But I must say that it is all the more necessary to make progress, because other countries are doing a lot to invest in France. As you may know, France is the first destination of the industrial investments in Europe, and every single week, we welcome 19 foreign companies in France. Therefore it would be necessary to understand why there is some – if I may say so – lack in our relationship and to develop that.

I don’t want to speak longer than that. I would like to wish you very fruitful discussions. I will be with you tomorrow with French President Hollande and Prime Minister Modi, because we have to write together a new page for the Indo-French partnership. I am sure it is possible, it is necessary, and I would like to thank all of you individually and collectively for the part you are playing in this common, necessary partnership. Thank you very much. Thank you.

Last modified on 10/04/2015

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