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India, France confident of $7bn trade in 5 yrs

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Dec 4: India and France today expressed confidence in doubling the bilateral trade turnover target of seven billion dollars in the next five years by stepping up business-to-business ties between Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

The current trade level between the countries is 3.5 billion dollars.

Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath has sought the cooperation of the French side in developing and modernising India's food processing sector as the demand gets stimulated by changing socio-economic situations like rapid urbanisation, bias towards nuclear families and greater work participation among women.

He said street food offered by vendors is an area that could be targeted for systematic development by the food processing industry.

''We are serious about having a strategy in partnership with industry to regulate the development of this sector and in this endeavour, we would all be happy to seek the cooperation of the French business,'' Mr Nath said while addressing the inaugural session of 'Indo-French business meeting 2006' here.

In the area of environment, he said, ''I could take advantage of France's expertise in implementing clean development mechanism projects.'' Elaborating on India's demographic dividend, the minister pointed out that India was a young nation and its youthful work force was known for its industriousness and intelligence and was available at a cheaper price than elsewhere.

Mr Nath said the presence of 217 French businessmen, half of them representing SMEs in sectors such as manufacturing, IT, pharmaceutical, environment, aeronautics, life sciences and food processing testified to the fact that the French mean business.

French Foreign Trade Minister Ms Christine Lagarde said France had targeted India as one of the five countries for enhanced trade and investment cooperation and will deliver on the promise of doubling the number of French companies operating in India as also those in the SME sector.

The step will give a fillip to investment and people-to-people contact from both sides, Ms Lagarde said.

The French foreign trade minister said France welcomed FDI, and investment from overseas under the rule of law. There are no obstacles to Indian investment, she said.

The largest-ever French business delegation comprising 217 business representatives along with Ms Lagarde is on a visit to India.


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