HYDERABAD: Aerospace major Dassault Aviation is expected to deliver all 36 Rafale jets well ahead of schedule despite a lockdown for a few days to contain the spread of COVID-19 in France, said French Ambassador to India Emmanuel Lenin said on Friday.
Speaking on the sidelines of the 4th Indo-French Investment Conclave organized by the Indo-French Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IFCCI) here, Lenin said firms belonging to the European country have invested over 10 billion euros in India. 2.50 lakh Indians.
“It (delivery of the aircraft) will be ahead of schedule. We are very proud of it. It hasn’t been disturbed at all despite Covid,” the envoy said.
India signed an inter-governmental 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 that produced the Rafale was closed (during the lockdown). We had a commitment to India. After the lockdown the teams spent nights and weekends to ensure Worked in extra shifts in the U.S. The planes were delivered on time. And so now Dassault has already sent India on 29th and 26th,” he said.
Describing the recent developments in Afghanistan as “worrisome”, the envoy said some countries, including France, have asked the Taliban regime to allow free flow of humanitarian aid to the beleaguered country besides not harboring terrorists.
He added, “Today they haven’t accomplished any and it’s very worrying. Until they fulfill some of these commitments, they can’t ask for any recognition from us.”
On Indo-French trade, the Ambassador said that the trade volume is not large as most of the companies in his country prefer to invest in India rather than export.
“We are making a lot of local investment. So far French companies have invested over 10 billion euros in India and it is going very fast and they are employing 250,000 Indians,” he explained.
In 2020, India-France bilateral trade stood at 9.04 billion euros (-21.99 per cent) over the previous year.
India’s exports to France stood at EUR 4.80 billion, a decline of 22.9 per cent during the period.
According to Indian official data, Indian imports from France also declined by 20.95 per cent to 4.23 billion euros.