Countering a report in French news portal Mediapart which cited a Dassault document of May 2017 to claim that the Rafale manufacturer had told its workers it was “imperative and mandatory” to choose Reliance Defence as its offsets partner, Dassault Aviation has said it has “freely chosen to make a partnership with India’s Reliance Group” to deliver “some of these offsets”.
In a statement, Dassault Aviation said: “Within the framework of the September 2016 Inter-Government Agreement between France and India, Dassault Aviation has sold 36 Rafale aircraft to India. In compliance with the Indian regulations (Defence Procurement Procedure) and as frequent with such a contract, Dassault Aviation has committed to offsets in India worth 50% of the value of the purchase.”
“In order to deliver some of these offsets, Dassault Aviation has decided to create a joint-venture. Dassault Aviation has freely chosen to make a partnership with India’s Reliance Group. This joint-venture, Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd (DRAL), was created February 10, 2017. Other partnerships have been signed with other companies such as BTSL, DEFSYS, Kinetic, Mahindra, Maini, SAMTEL,. Other negotiations are ongoing with a hundred-odd other potential partners,” it stated.
“In compliance with French regulations, Chief Operating Officer Loïk Segalen informed, May 11, 2017, the Central Works Council of the Company’s offset commitments and the strategy to deliver them. The cornerstone for the DRAL plant in Nagpur (Maharashtra) was laid October 27, 2017. This plant will manufacture parts for Falcon 2000 business jets and, in a second step, parts for Rafale aircraft,” it stated.
Julien Bouissou, South Asia correspondent of French daily Le Monde, too said there was “nothing ‘explosive’, nothing new” in the Mediamart report.
In a series of tweets, Bouissou said that in May 2017, Dassault informed French trade unions about the construction of a plant in Nagpur, and explained to them why that plant could not be built in France because of the offsets.
“…Please note that in France, the top management of a company has to inform the Central Works Councils (trade unions) about their strategy/important decisions. And in that case, the important decision conveyed to the Central Work Council, was the construction of a plant in India that will not create jobs for French workers. It’s about French labour laws, not so much about Anil Ambani,” he tweeted.