India can count on France to make its G20 Presidency a success: French Finance Minister Le Maire

As part of India’s presidency of the G20, Bruno Le Maire, Minister for Economy, Finance, and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty of France is visiting Bangalore and Delhi this week. In a written interview with ET’s Dipanjan Roy Chaudhry Le Maire said French companies are positioned to support India towards achieving its strategic goals in sectors such as energy transition and decarbonization, urban development, aerospace & digital technology.

India can count on France to make its presidency a success, Le Maire emphasised.

What are your priorities as France’s Economy and Finance Minister for the G20 under Indian presidency?
First of all, France is glad to see India in the G20 driver’s seat at such a crucial moment for multilateralism. As we mark one year since Ukraine conflict, the G20 must act to mitigate its economic consequences, which are affecting global financial stability, trade and value chains, and hurtingvulnerable countries the most. It must also ensure we don’t fall behind on our climate commitments. In this context, Indiacan act as a bridge to bring the world together and deliver tangible solutions.

India can count on France to make its presidency a success. In the Finance track, we are working closely on the International Financial Architecture, covered by a working group co-chaired by France and South Korea, and on the Common Framework for Debt Treatments, set up in 2020, to address the vulnerable countries’ debt distress.

The reform of the international financial architecture will be the focus of the discussions at the ministerial meeting [February 24]. What is France’s position and how can the interests of developing countries be better taken into account?

The international financial architecture must be reformed to ensure greater solidarity for developing countries. France is spearheading these efforts. Our aim is to reach a balanced and ambitious “global financial pact” to mobilise more public andprivate resources in order to support developing countries in achieving their Sustainable Development Goals and better addressing global challenges like fighting climate change and achieving the energy transition.

This is the aim of the initiative launched by President Macron. An international summit will take place in France in June, and we really hope that its outcomes will fuel the G20 discussions under India’s presidency in the run-up to the G20 summit in September.

What can the G20 do to promote sustainable infrastructure financing?
The world needs an estimated 420 billion USD per year in investments in low-carbon and resilient infrastructure. The issue is to unleash these investments while ensuring the highest standards of transparency, affordability, and sustainability, under the G20 framework. This is very much a priority of our efforts with India in the Indo-Pacific and – among other multilateral initiatives – through the India-based Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, which France fully supports.

A few months ago, India was the guest of honour at Paris’ InfraWeek, a high-level infrastructure’ financing event. With our shared vision, France and India can deepen their partnership by bringing together financial and technical expertise on strategic low-carbon, resilient and sustainable infrastructure projects all over the world.

India's G20 presidency has placed sustainable urban infrastructure as a priority. France welcomes this focus, as urbanization is the largest and most challenging trend that the world will face in the coming decades, particularly in South Asia and Africa.

This is your first visit to India as Minister of Economy and Finance. What are the prospects for Indo-French economic ties?
There is great momentum in our bilateral economic relationship, backed by outstanding political trust at the highest level. France has been the top European destination for FDI three years in a row, and we expect to see more and more Indian investors choosing France as their gateway to Europe. Similarly, French companies have a long-standing and strong presence in India – more than 600 as of now – and are investing in India’s economy, in various sectors.

French companies are positioned to support India towards achieving its strategic goals in sectors such as energy transition and decarbonization, urban development, aerospace,and digital technology. Their commitment to the Indian market reflects France’s commitment to being India’s foremost partner for investing in the sectors of the future. Developing together the technologies that will anchor ournations’ independence tomorrow, such as artificial intelligence or supercomputers, is the new frontier for our strategic partnership.

Last week, Air India announced a purchase of 250 Airbus aircraft. Can we expect more announcements in the field of aerospace cooperation between France and India?

As President Macron said, we are very happy and proud of this brilliant achievement. Airbus and its suppliers had been working on this with Air India and Tata Group for months.And there will be other promising developments. The French aerospace industry fully geared to support the expansion of Indian aviation not only by supplying planes to Indian companies, but also by strengthening its presence in the country.

Airbus is building a C295 assembly plant in Gujarat, and developing pilot training facilities in India. Safran, the French aircraft engine manufacturer, is building an MRO centre in Hyderabad where the company already operates two factories. Dassault has created joint ventures to manufacture components in India under the Rafale deal. In the airport sector, the French company "Aéroports de Paris" is GMR's partner for the development and management of the largest Indian airports, such as Hyderabad, and Goa, and, of course,Delhi, which I visited this morning.

This presence of so many French aerospace companies in India, which made France the largest foreign delegation at the Aero India show in Bengaluru last week, illustrates the great potential of the Indian market and the desire of French manufacturers to strengthen their presence not only commercially but also industrially.

Any progress in the talks on the Jaitapur nuclear power plant?
The discussions recently marked significant progress, and are converging on all aspects, thanks to outstanding work by the teams on both sides, and the clear political mandate given by President Macron and Prime Minister Modi. Jaitapur would be the world’s largest nuclear power plant, providing affordable, low-carbon electricity to the equivalent of 7 crore households, creating thousands of local jobs through partnerships, and boosting India’s efforts towards climate neutrality. It would also enhance India’s energy independence and thus its strategic autonomy. It’s a flagship Indo-French project, and we are committed to bringing it to fruition.


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