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India-French bilateral trade set to increase: Envoy

Chennai, July 13 (IANS) Bilateral trade between India and France is expected to rise with French firms starting to supply nuclear reactors and participating in Indian infrastructure and other projects, French Ambassador Jerome Bonnafont said.

‘The land acquisition for the civil nuclear plant using French reactors has been completed in Jaitapur in Maharashtra. A lot of nuclear reactor components will be locally sourced,’ Bonnafont told reporters here on the sidelines of a seminar ‘Investment opportunities in France’ organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

As per plans, six European pressurised water reactors – each with a capacity of 1,600 MW – will be set up in Jaitapur.

He said the fuel for the French reactors will be supplied for the plant’s lifetime and reprocessing will be done in India.

‘If need be, the spent fuel can be sent to France for reprocessing,’ Bonnafont added.

On the French stand on capping civil nuclear liability, he said when there is a huge nuclear power programme it is important to have civil nuclear liability laws.

Not agreeing that the civil liability cap offered by international conventions was low, he said: ‘What exists is a three-layer system. The first layer of liability lies with the operator. The second layer is at the country level and the third layer of compensation is from an international fund.’

Bonnafont said that the G-20, under French leadership in 2011, would be more inclusive and that there would be more Indo-French discussions on making the grouping a success.

According to him, there has to be a balance of market economy and regulations in the wake of the global meltdown. The debate will be to balance growth through incentives and managing public spending.

Speaking at the seminar, he said bilateral trade between India and France is seven billion euros and the balance of trade is slightly in favour of the former.

Referring to the target of 10 billion euros of bilateral trade by 2012, he said the global crisis is behind and the target can be considered achievable.

On the reason behind the low bilateral trade between the two nations and why Germany is ahead of France in trade with India, Bonnafont said the answer could in the kind of products traded.

With French companies having expertise in infrastructure projects like roads and energy, it can partner with Indian firms to build world class facilities in India.

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