Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday made a pitch for the French industry to invest and explore collaborative opportunities in India while French engine manufacturer Safran said that India should provide an attractive business environment and not “terrorise us” with its tax and customs rules.
“We want collaboration to modernise our shipyards and defence platforms by infusion of technology. French firms can make India their base for production of defence equipment not only for India’s large market but also for export to other countries,” Mr. Singh said, addressing the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of the French defence industry. He is on a two-day visit to France.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Singh visited the Safran manufacturing plant at Villaroche near Paris where he was given a presentation of the company’s activities and a tour of the assembly line. Safran manufactures engines for the Rafale fighter jet, 36 of which the Indian Air Force (IAF) has contracted. Mr. Singh formally received the first Rafale made for IAF on Tuesday.
India is set to become the third largest commercial market for aviation and we are keen to create a strong maintenance and repair base in India to serve customers, Olivier Andries, CEO Safran Aircraft Engines said. Safran plans to invest about $150 million in India towards training and maintenance. It is also looking to set up maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facilities in India.
“But we need to make sure that the Indian tax and customs system is not terorrising us,” he said. To this Mr. Singh assured that India was committed to providing the "right climate" for investments under the 'Make in India' initiative.
Mr. Singh informed the CEOs that two defence corridors have been set up in Uttar Pradesh and Tamilnadu which “offer attractive terms for investment.” “I would like to emphasise that India would be open to explore opportunities and co-production of high-end defence equipment,” he stated.
Stating that India has substantial requirement of aero engines both in civil and military domains, Mr. Singh urged the French industry to participate in “Make in India” and the DefExpo to be held in Lucknow from February 5-8, 2020.
On Tuesday evening, Mr. Singh held talks with his French counterpart as part of the second annual Indo-French defence dialogue. “They discussed numerous prospects of the already rich bilateral defence cooperation, as well as security issues in the Indo-Pacific region, on which France recently published its defence strategy,” French Embassy said in a statement.
Defence Ministry said in a statement that the two Ministers “comprehensively” reviewed the “entire gamut” of bilateral defence cooperation, which is a key pillar of India-France Strategic Partnership. “The two nations agreed to expand the scope and complexity of the existing regular bilateral joint exercises...,” the statement added.