External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian discussed ways to speed up discussions on the long-pending India-EU trade and investment agreement and opportunities for collaboration in other sectors in a bilateral meeting on Tuesday.
“In the context of the changes in a Covid-impacted world, both Ministers recognised the immense opportunities for greater collaboration in diverse sectors such as trade and investments, defence and security, health, education, research and innovation, energy and climate change,” as per an official release circulated by the Ministry of External Affairs following the bilateral talks.
The two Ministers observed that bilateral trade between India and France had witnessed a steady rise in the last decade reaching $10.75 billion in 2020. “To tap the full potential of bilateral trade and economic relations, both sides recognised the importance of fast tracking the discussions on an India-EU trade and investment agreement,” the release said.
Negotiations for India-EU trade and investment agreement, launched in 2007, were suspended in 2014 following differences over market access demanded by the EU for key items such as automobiles, wines & spirits, dairy and financial services. There are expectations that the negotiations could re-start at the India-EU Summit in Portugal next month.
Le Drian is on a three-day official visit to India and will also visit Bengaluru.
Exploring maritime resources
The two sides explored ways to strengthen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, including the India-France-Australia Trilateral mechanism, addressing emerging challenges in the maritime and space domains and working together in the area of climate action and biodiversity protection. India welcomed France’s decision to take up the “Maritime Resources” pillar of India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI).
Le Drian will participate, along with the Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar, at a panel discussion on Climate Change in Delhi. He will also participate in the Raisina Dialogue.
In the second leg of his tour, he will visit the National Centre for Biological Sciences and ISRO in Bengaluru on April 15.