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Rajnath invites French defence firms to set up base in India

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Rajnath invites French defence firms to set up base in IndiaParis, Oct 9 (IANS) Defence Minister Rajnath Singh invited French defence industries to set up production bases in India and enter into co-production of high-end defence equipment while addressing top honchos on the last day of his three-day visit to France on Wednesday.

Addressing a meet of defence and avionics industries CEOs here, he spoke about how India has opened up the defence sector under the ‘Make in India’ initiative.

“We want collaboration to modernise our shipyards and defence platforms by infusion of technology. French firms can make India its base for production of defence equipment not only for India’s large market but also for export to other countries,” he said.

The Defence Minister elucidated about the tax reforms undertaken in India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He said that the government has successfully implemented a single Goods and Services Tax in the country besides substantially reducing corporate tax.

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“We have undertaken significant economic reforms to improve the ease of doing business and opening up the economy for investments. Our Government under the leadership of our PM Modi has opened up defence sector manufacturing to a large extent under the ‘Make in India’. For ‘Make in India’ in Defence if there is need for further tax rationalisation, it may be considered suitably,” he said.

During the course of his address, Rajnath Singh said that Indian and French defence firms can mutually benefit though bilateral defence co-operation.

“Indian MSMEs seek foothold in the global supply chains with support from of French defence and aerospace OEMs. French companies could leverage from advantages in India such as low wages and availability of technical manpower,” he said.

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Rajnath Singh has travelled to France along with a delegation of senior defence and armed forces officials on a three-day official tour. He formally received the first of the 36 Rafale multi-role combat aircraft in Merignac on Tuesday.

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Invitations were extended to French firms by the Indian delegation for participating in DefExpo 2020 which will be held in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh next year.

“We have set up two defence corridors in India in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and offer attractive terms for investment. I would like to emphasise that India would be open to explore opportunities and co-production of high-end defence equipment,” Rajnath Singh said.

Earlier on Wednesday, he visited the manufacturing facility of Safran, one of the world’s largest aircraft engine manufacturers, in Villaroche near Paris. Safran has developed the engines that power the Rafale aircraft.

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