France will help finalise India-EU FTA: Hollande


New Delhi : France will support India on its negotiations with the EU on clinching a free trade agreement (FTA), President Francois Hollande said Thursday.

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“France is willing to support trade negotiations between Europe and India,” Hollande said, addressing an India-France business meet organized here jointly by industry associations FICCI, CII, Assocham and the French Embassy.

The FTA negotiations have hit major stumbling blocks on the EU’s demands for raising the cap on foreign investments in the insurance sector and for decreasing tariffs across the auto segment. India wants EU to bring down its non-tariff barriers.

Hollande said France would benefit if the FTA was finalised.

The visiting president also said “every type of French company, from the small to the big, should have access to the Indian market.”

He said the way forward to boost France-India trade was to focus on collaborations with the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in all sectors of the Indian economy.

Two-way trade, which currently stands at $7.5 billion, could rise in a sizeable and sustained manner towards the target of $12 billion, said Hollande.

France is the 9th largest investor in India whereas India ranks 13th among investors in France.

“There is immense scope of cooperation and both nations must also look at audio-visual, retail and culture as potential sectors for business engagement,” Hollande said.

He invited Indian businessmen to invest in France and appealed to the French delegation members to look for partnership opportunities in India.