The latest meeting of the Indian Investors Club took place on November 20, 2013 at the Invest in France Agency (IFA) headquarters. The aim of the event, which was organized in conjunction with the Indian Embassy in France and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry France India (CCIFI), was to enable Indian investors with a presence in France to meet and discuss their main concerns in complete confidence.
New partnerships between France and India
His Excellency Mr. Arun K. Singh, the Indian Ambassador to France, was taking part in this annual meeting for the first time. He spoke to underline the crucial role played by Indian companies in the world today. India is currently only the 21st biggest global investor, but it is steadily climbing up the rankings. The Indian government is making it easier for Indian firms to invest abroad, and a significant number of partnerships were signed last year between France and India to further collaboration between the two countries (one example is the IFA-CCIFI partnership agreement signed during the Club’s previous meeting in 2012).
France was the recipient of nine new Indian investments in 2012, including the acquisition of French firm Alti by Tata Consulting Services (TCS), which received strong backing from Mr. Arnaud Montebourg, the French Minister for Industrial Renewal, and Ms. Fleur Pellerin, the Minister for SMEs, Innovation and the Digital Economy. Today, more than 40 Indian companies are doing business in France, employing 5,500 people in a wide range of sectors, including agri-food, software and IT services, pharmaceuticals and biotechnologies. Tata Steel and Titagarh Wagon AFR have been particularly successful since arriving in the country. Mr. Dominique Chiesura, Export Director of Tata Steel, and Mr. Pascal Varin, CEO of Titagarh Wagon AFR, were in attendance at the meeting and were happy to explain the factors of this success. Both firms chose to invest in French companies for their unique expertise and highly qualified workforces.
France offers many advantages for Indian companies
France offers various advantages to foreign companies looking to expand internationally. According to the “Investing in France – Opportunities and insights for Indian companies” survey commissioned by the Indian Embassy in France and published by consulting firm PwC in 2012, France is a strategic gateway to Africa (especially its French-speaking nations) and Latin America. France is also perceived as being at the cutting edge of new technologies and a fertile environment for R&D.
R&D is in fact a major attraction for Indian companies. During his speech, Mr. Dan Oiknine, President of the CCIFI, highlighted the importance of France’s 71 innovation clusters. These clusters, which are much more commonplace in France than in India, provide firms with access to the very best technology and talent, thanks to their partnerships with local universities. It is also worth reiterating that France provides many companies with financial support for research not only in the form of its Research Tax Credit, but also its Competitiveness and Employment Tax Credit (CICE), as Mr. Yves-Charles Zimmermann, Lawyer-Partner with Mazars, demonstrated in his presentation. France also founded a public investment bank, bpifrance, in 2012, which was showcased by Ms. Isabelle Lebo, International Project Manager at bpifrance.
Optimizing employment law
Meanwhile, France has demonstrated its keenness to optimize employment law and to simplify the visa-granting process for qualified employees. Ms. Valérie Blandeau, Lawyer-Partner with Wragge & Co., also provided an update on the Act of June 14, 2013, which stemmed from an agreement between employer federations and trade unions that offers greater leeway to companies and employees, while helping to secure jobs and employee career paths. Ms. Christelle Caporali-Petit, an official from the Economic Immigration Office at the Ministry of the Interior, reminded participants of the key role played by the French Immigration and Citizenship Office (OFII) as the single point of contact for individuals seeking resident and work permits in eight French départements (Haute-Garonne, Hauts-de-Seine, Isère, Nord, Paris, Puy-de-Dôme, Rhône and Yvelines).
At the end of this rich and fruitful work session, the Indian business leaders in attendance were able to pursue their discussions with IFA team members and the IFA’s partners during the event’s traditional cocktail reception.