New outreach to Indian companies with Provence Promotion’s influence programme

New outreach to Indian companies with Provence Promotion’s influence programme
08 November 2022 / invest in provence

Paris speech promotes Aix-Marseille’s economic advantages

As part of a delegation led by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Indian Ambassador to France, Mr. Jawed Ashraf, a dozen high-level Indian business leaders who are supporting the forthcoming EU-India free trade agreement visited Paris to discuss the economy, investment opportunities, and bilateral relations between the two countries.

Olivier Becht, the French Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade, Economic Attractiveness, and French Nationals Abroad, invited representatives from Aix-Marseille-Provence and two other areas of France committed to deepening economic ties with India to the Business France headquarters in Paris to meet the delegation. This was an opportunity for Provence Promotion to showcase the assets and advantages of the Aix-Marseille business ecosystem as well as the historical, current, and future ties that unite Provence and India.

India is one of the priorities for Provence Promotion’s influence programme, the economic development strategy created by a group of more than 20 stakeholders in the Aix-Marseille economy to ensure the metro area is more visible to French and international investors. The influence programme includes some of the most important companies and institutions in the metro area, including the Port of Marseille Fos, Marseille Provence Airport, the Euroméditerranée international business district, Aix-Marseille University, KEDGE Business School, CMA CGM, Airbus Helicopters, Digital Realty, Crédit Agricole Alpes Provence, TotalEnergies, Pernod Ricard, L’OCCITANE Group, Orange, EDF, ArcelorMittal, and STMicroelectronics.

Provence and India enjoy a long history of trade and friendship that dates to the 17th century when Marseille was the gateway to Europe for the Indian textile industry.

Today, the India-Provence relationship is stronger than ever as the territory plays a key role in the rapidly growing economic relationship between France and India. Over the past ten years, the import-export flow has doubled to reach approximately €12 billion, with the two countries enjoying equivalent trade balances. Over that same time, investments by Indian companies in France have increased tenfold, making India the third largest Asian investor in France.

Container traffic between India and the Port of Marseille Fos is also on the rise. Last year, there was a 15% jump in containers, and India is now the 7th most important country for traffic at the Port of Marseille Fos.

Indian companies are contributing to major projects in Provence

There are more than 210 Indian subsidiaries in France, including economic giants operating in Provence such as ArcelorMittal, which is investing €2 billion in industrial decarbonisation at the Port of Marseille Fos, and Infosys, the leading Indian IT services company, which has opened offices in the Euroméditerranée district in Marseille.

ITER, the €20-billion international nuclear fusion project based in Saint-Paul-lez-Durance, also hosts a large community of Indian scientists, while the Indian multinational Larsen & Toubro is making a sizeable manufacturing contribution to the project’s progress. With the support of its team of engineers on-site in Provence, Larsen & Toubro is responsible for the construction of ITER’s cryostat, the largest stainless steel vacuum chamber ever built.

In the industrial field, the Indian company Electrosteel, the world’s second-largest manufacturer of ductile iron pipes and fittings, is investing in its logistics platform in Provence by expanding its production site in Arles. Its objective is to build a recycling plant capable of handling 50 000 tonnes per year and to implement an innovative coating technique that will considerably reduce the amount of sand used on construction sites.

In addition, the Indian Air Force is benefiting from the advanced aerospace expertise in the Aix-Marseille ecosystem by training its pilots and maintenance specialists at centres of excellence in Provence run by Safran, Dassault, and Airbus Helicopters.

Aix-Marseille, a hub for Indian investment in Europe and Africa

Indian companies have traditionally chosen to invest in Aix-Marseille because of its strategic location at the crossroads of Europe and Africa and its outstanding infrastructure, such as the Port of Marseille Fos, the Marseille-Provence Airport, and the area’s logistics platforms. However, new advantages are also coming to light: As Indian companies seek to expand into Africa, Aix-Marseille has emerged as a prime location to attract the African talent they need to succeed in African markets.

Aix-Marseille University, the most popular French-speaking university for African students, has a pool of talent that enables Indian companies to overcome language, cultural, and political barriers when entering African markets. There are also possibilities for Indian companies to create their own dedicated training campus with the university to better prepare African students before hiring them.

Another reason Aix-Marseille is a booming location for investment is that it serves as a main landing point for subsea internet cables and it is home to a state-of-the-art network of data centres. This makes the metro area one of the top 10 digital hubs in the world and a fertile ground for the development of start-ups, particularly African ones.

Aix-Marseille has a diverse range of high-performance incubators and accelerators that welcome African start-ups and boost their growth through numerous initiatives and partnerships. For example, for the past four years, Aix-Marseille has been organising the Emerging Valley Summit that brings together the most influential players in the digital and tech industry in Europe and Africa. This year’s event, which will be held on 29 November, is expected to attract 2300 participants, including 160 African start-ups.

Provence is also home to the Africalink network, an innovative community of entrepreneurs from Africa, the Mediterranean, and Europe that are cooperating to ensure the success of their projects and to improve the economic landscape along the Europe/Mediterranean/Africa corridor.

By taking part in these networks that forge strong links with Africa, Indian companies can easily become part of Aix-Marseille’s innovative ecosystem and quickly identify opportunities to recruit talent and make investments that will help their expansion into emerging markets.

Developing a long-term strategy for India-Provence cooperation

Under the auspices of the influence programme, on Thursday 3 November in Paris, Provence Promotion presented an overview of Aix-Marseille’s economic advantages to the Confederation of Indian Industries, one of the main trade associations in India, and its delegation of leaders from large Indian companies in the defence, engineering, textile, hotel, and finance sectors.

This influence programme initiative follows trade missions to Mumbai and Bangalore in April 2022 and the visit to Provence by the Indian Ambassador Mr. Jawed Ashraf in 2021. The economic outreach will continue during President Macron’s visit to India in early 2023 and the Africa-India Forum in Delhi in March 2023.