Aerospace major Dassault Aviation is expected to deliver the 36 Rafale jets well ahead of schedule despite a lockdown of a few days to contain the spread of COVID-19 in France, French Ambassador to India Emmanuel Lenain said on Friday.
Speaking on the sidelines of the fourth edition of the Indo-French Investment Conclave here, organized by the Indo-French Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IFCCI), Lenain said companies belonging to this European country have invested more of 10 billion euros in India by creating jobs for 2.50 lakh Indians.
“This (the delivery of planes) will be ahead of schedule. We are very proud of it. Despite Covid, it was not disturbed at all, on the contrary,” the envoy told PTI.
India had signed an intergovernmental agreement with France in September 2016 for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore.
The first batch of five Rafale jets arrived in India on July 29 last year
“The factory producing the Rafale was closed (during the lockdown). We had a commitment to India. After the lockdown, crews worked extra shifts at night and on weekends to ensure these planes were delivered on time. And so right now Dassault has delivered to India 29 and 26 have already been transported to India, ”he said.
Describing recent developments in Afghanistan as “worrying”, the ambassador said some countries, including France, have called on the Taliban regime to allow the free flow of humanitarian aid to the besieged country and not to provide shelter from terrorists.
“Today, they have not fulfilled any and it is very worrying. They cannot ask us for any form of recognition until they have fulfilled some of these commitments,” he added.
Regarding Indo-French trade, the ambassador said that the trade volumes are not important because most of the companies in his country prefer to invest in India rather than to export.
“We make a lot of local investments. So far, French companies have invested more than 10 billion euros in India and it is going very quickly and they employ 250,000 Indians,” he explained.
In 2020, India-France bilateral trade amounted to 9.04 billion euros (-21.99%) compared to the previous year. Indian exports to France were valued at 4.80 billion euros, down 22.9% during this period. Indian imports from France also fell 20.95% to 4.23 billion euros, according to official Indian figures.
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