India-France bilateral trade hit by slowdown, says envoy

Kolkata, Nov 24 ( Bilateral trade between India and France will be hit this fiscal on account of the global economic meltdown, a French diplomat said here Tuesday.

“Our target was to reach 12-billion-euro ($18 billion) bilateral trade by 2012 from the present 7 million euros. But, I think, it will be delayed owing to the global slowdown,” France’s Ambassador Jerome Bonnafont told a seminar here.

“I don’t think that we’ll be able to reach our goal by 2012. But with the turnaround in the economic scenario, we are expecting to reach 12-billion-euro mark in the next couple of years,” Bonnafont said.

The ambassador, who met West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee Tuesday morning, said the state government welcomed French investment in key areas.

“Bhattacharjee said the state government would like to welcome French investments in two particular sectors – agro processing and renewable (energy) sector,” Bonnafont said.

“In fact, we’re extremely interested to participate in these two sectors,” he said. “I also have plans to introduce direct air link between Kolkata and Paris through Air France.”

“We’ll try to execute this plan very soon,” the ambassador said.