France and India

Relations between France and India date back to the 18th century, when the first trade, political and cultural contacts were established and then maintained throughout the course of the 19th century. Diplomatic relations were established at the time of independence, then were particularly active in the late 1950s with André Malraux’s visit to India at the request of General de Gaulle, and then the visit of India’s Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1962. At that time, cooperation developed in every area including in defence and civil nuclear energy.

On the basis of these longstanding ties based on trust, France and India decided to enter a new stage of their relations by establishing a strategic partnership in 1988. Since then, exchanges have become considerably more dense at political, economic, human, scientific and cultural levels but also in such sensitive areas as defence, civil nuclear energy, space, counter-terrorism and more recently maritime security. President Hollande made a State visit to India on 24-26 January 2016 for Republic Day, making France the most invited guest of honour at national holiday celebrations. This visit followed on from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official visit to France on 10-11 April 2015. The French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development visited India on 5 February 2015, on 20 November 2015 and on 8-11 January 2017.

For more information, please visit the website of the Embassy of France in India.

Political relations

Relations between India and France were reinforced with the creation of the Strategic Partnership in 1998, which demonstrates the ties of friendship and trust between the two countries. Regular meetings between Indian and French authorities fuel an in-depth, long-term political dialogue. President Hollande made a State visit to India on 24-26 January 2016. This visit followed on from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official visit to France on 10-11 April 2015. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development visited India on 5 February 2015, on 20 November 2015 (in preparation for COP21), then on 8-11 January 2017.

Economic relations

Structurally negative for France since the crisis in 2008, French-Indian trade is balancing out even though it remains below its potential. France recorded its lowest trade deficit with India for the first nine months of 2016, which was -€837 million versus -€2.2 billion in 2015.

French exports amounted to €3.2 billion in 2015 and imports from India increased to €5.4 billion, thereby reducing our trade deficit by 12.7% (Source: French Directorate-General of the Treasury - DGT). Our market share is falling (0.8% in 2015) mainly due to the postponement of certain deliveries in the aviation sector.

France is among the three leading foreign investors in India. Today, more than 1,000 French companies covering a wide range of sectors are working in India and employ some 300,000 people (versus 240,000 in 2012). The capital stock invested by those companies in India reportedly amounts to around €20 billion. France and India signed an intergovernmental agreement on sustainable urban development in Paris on 5 October 2012. Under the agreement, France is taking an active part in implementing the Smart Cities sustainable urban development programme launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

The development of academic, scientific and technical cooperation with India is also a priority for France.

In the academic field, some 3,000 Indian students were studying in France in 2015-2016. This number has been rising steadily and has more than doubled over the last five years. French efforts cover two areas: scholarship programmes and partnerships between Indian and French institutions.

Scientific and technical cooperation is another key area of our partnership. This cooperation builds on structures bringing together French and Indian researchers and scientists, such as the Indo-French Centre for the Promotion of Advanced Research (IFCPAR) since 1987; and the development of joint research laboratories in promising areas of research such as neurosciences and chemistry, the two Instituts Français in Delhi and Pondicherry, and research clubs (bringing together 10,000 to 20,000 French researchers in the private sector) round out our presence.

Finally, France and India also agreed to enhance their cooperation in the field of the environment and the fight against climate change, through the activities of the Franco-Indian working group on the environment and the establishment of the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) in India in 2008 with a mandate focused on the preservation of global public goods.

India and France organize a festival, each in the country of the other, aiming to promote culture: Namasté France and Bonjour India. In France, The Namasté France Festival showcased India from 15 September to 30 November 2016. In India, the Bonjour India Festival will be held from autumn 2017 through spring 2018.

Updated: 3 March 2017

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