India visit yields $20bn in new deals for Sarkozy
France's President Nicolas Sarkozy revealed yesterday he has clinched deals worth about $20bn (€15bn) with India, becoming the latest among a string of world leaders jostling for a share of Asia's third biggest economy.
The business deals, which span atomic energy, defence and civil aviation, comfortably betters the $10bn (€7.5bn) US President Barack Obama secured on his November visit. They come a day before Mr Sarkozy is due to end his four-day visit.
Chinese premier Wen Jiabao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev are also due to visit India this month, a sign of how major powers are vying for the world's biggest new defence and power markets, long closed to outside investors.
India is trying to boost its power generation capability and defence, wary it is falling behind China.
Mr Sarkozy also called for a joint proposal with India to push his ambitious reform agenda for the G20 group of developed and emerging nations, including changes to the global monetary system and commodity markets.
"France considers that no big-item problem in the world can be solved without India participating at the highest level. India is a major economy, we came to visit India as a partner," Mr Sarkozy told a press conference.
India, a member of the BRIC group of rapidly developing countries, is forecast to see economic growth of almost 9pc this year, with the economy accelerating further in following years, levels rivalled only by China. Investors are also keen to tap into a country with a young and fast-urbanising population of 1.2 billion.
But like every foreign investor, the French must negotiate a series of regulatory problems and Indian politics.
The government is currently mired in a string of scandals that have tarnished India's image as an investment destination.
France and India signed a framework contract for the sale of at least two atomic reactors by French nuclear group Areva, estimated at around €7bn.
France is competing with US and Russian firms for a slice of India's nuclear energy market, worth an estimated $150bn, after New Delhi signed a series of civilian nuclear deals that ended its status as a nuclear pariah.