Kamal Nath calls for widening Indo-France trade basket

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New Delhi, Sept 16 (UNI) Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath today called for widening Indo-France trade basket through engagement of small and medium enterprises and by facilitating trade in services.

During his meeting with French Minister of State for External Trade Anne-Marie Idrac here, he said, ''India is not only a competitive exporter of services, but is also a large importer of services.'' He said once bilateral social security exemption agreement was reached between the two countries, it will boost efficient delivery of services at reduced costs, benefiting economic operators in both the nations.

France is among India's top five trading partners in the European Union. Indo-French bilateral trade in 2007-08 was 5.38 billion dollars (exports - 2.54 billion dollars and imports - 2.84 billion dollars).

French foreign direct investment in India from 1991 to 2007 totalled 895 million dollars, while Indian investements were 114 million dollars.

Both the Ministers also discussed progress of Joint Working Groups on agriculture, information technology and telecom, transport, energy and mineral exploration sectors.

Addressing the Indo-French Joint Committee Meeting (JCM), Mr Nath lauded the JCM as a useful forum to exchange views on the bilateral economic relationship, saying this creates confidence for businesses to engage bilaterally.

Accepting that business people have to wade through a maze of regulations and compliance procedures to be able to trade, he said, "We must do our best to make it easy for people to explore business and professional opportunities, although this is easier said than done." Mr Nath also discussed with the Frence Minister delays and difficulties in getting visas and compliance with standards.

Besides Commerce Secretary Gopal Pillai and Secretary (DIPP) Ajay Shankar, senior officials from Ministries of Power, Railways, Telecommunications, Urban Development, Road Transport&Highways, Mines, Posts and Information Technology, attended the meeting, according to an official statement UNI SAA SG AS1519

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