French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who was on a four-day official visit to India along with his wife Carla Bruni left for Paris on Tuesday after signing a few deals worth more than $10 billion, which is almost the same as what US President Obama managed during his visit last month.
Sarkozy termed his visit to India as a successful one as he stressed on striking a long-term partnership between the two countries and not for clients or a few deals.
The French government would be happy to facilitate trade flows and exchange technology know-how in various sectors including agriculture that would help India achieve self-sufficiency in food, Sarkozy said, adding that France would help India attain sustainable development while addressing ecological issues.
Earlier on Monday, France signed a $9.3-billion framework agreement to sell two nuclear reactors to India in New Delhi as part of president Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit.
India inked the deal with France's state-run nuclear group Areva to buy two reactors for a new plant in Jaitapur in the western state of Maharashtra.
Negotiations (with Areva) have reached an advanced stage to pave the way for the launching of nuclear power reactors in Jaitapur in partnership with Indian industry, said Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a joint press conference.
With this deal, Areva has moved ahead of US and Japanese companies who are in the race to sell nuclear reactors to India, which aims to tap atomic power for 25 percent of its electricity demands by 2050.
Russia is already constructing two nuclear power units in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
Areva will supply six reactors for the Maharashtra plant of which the first two are worth $9.26 billion (7 billion euros). Construction of the reactors will begin next year and the first electricity is expected to be generated by 2018. Areva will also enter into partnerships with Indian suppliers.
French president Sarkozy’s office said deals totalling 15 billion euros ($20 billion) have been signed or are about to be signed with Indian companies, which include buying 126 fighter jets, 200 helicopters, a leasing agreement for 14 Airbus planes and modernization of 51 French-made Mirage fighter jets, AFP reported.
According to defense experts, New Delhi is expected to spend $80 billion between 2012 and 2022 to upgrade its military and France is hoping to benefit from India's decision to build nearly 20 nuclear power plants.
France is well-placed to cash in, as it has steadily supported India's nuclear program and resisted sanctions imposed by many developed nations when India tested a nuclear weapons in 1998, reports said.
Bilateral trade declined in 2009 due to global economic woes, but was on the upswing this year, said Vishnu Prakash, India's external affairs ministry spokesman. The two countries have set a trade target of $15.8 billion (12 billion euros) for 2012, he said.
On his Indian visit, Sarkozy was accompanied by a delegation of six ministers and about 70 chief executives including the bosses of aircraft and defense groups Dassault Aviation, aircraft maker EADS and Areva.
French president who began his visit from Indian tech city Bangalore also signed agreements that will see closer cooperation in space and arts and culture. The two countries will jointly launch satellites to monitor the climate and oceans next year.
France, which recently took over presidency of the G20 group of developed and major developing economic powers, urged India to open up various sectors of its economy.
Sarkozy sought support for his agenda, which includes overhauling the global monetary system and combating commodity price volatility. He said the global recession has highlighted the need for faster and more pragmatic approach while addressing problems.
The French president, who is visiting India for the second time during his tenure as president, said France sees opportunity in sectors such as infrastructure and technology in India, while it wants to open its markets for textile, petrochemical, agricultural and food processing products from India.
He said India should open up on ecological issues as choosing between development and environment was a ‘non-choice’.
We have not come here with bulging pockets to strike deals.We are looking for equal partners as we believe in your future even more than you do, Sarkozy said in a meet organized by Confederation of Indian Industry in Mumbai.
Meanwhile, France reiterated its support for India to have a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, a key foreign policy objective for New Delhi.
“I believe that we need a reform in the Security Council…The world has been thinking since 35 years to reform the Security Council,” he said, describing the standstill (of 35 years) as ‘audacious’.
Sarkozy also touched on the terror threat to India, the situation in Afghanistan and India's role in solving these issues.
France stands in total solidarity with India. If India is attacked, democracy is attacked. Terrorism and insurgency in Pakistan and Afghanistan are a major source of threat to world peace and stability. We cannot afford see Taliban succeed in Afghanistan, he said.
Sarkozy's visit comes ahead of trips to India by Chinese premier Wen Jiabao and Russian president Dmitry Medvedev.