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India, Japan discuss ways to conclude FTA soon

The Hindu, India

India, Japan discuss ways to conclude FTA soon


India, Japan on Thursday discussed ways for early conclusion of their proposed bilateral free trade pact to liberalise commerce.

The two countries’ senior officials met here to lay the groundwork for reaching a bilateral free trade agreement that would provide Japanese goods and services greater access to the world’s second-most populous market, according to a Kyodo report.

India and Japan are engaged in Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) negotiations, since January 2007.

Japan is hoping to reach a broad agreement with India on a CEPA during the sub-cabinet-level talks ahead of the planned visit of the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Japan in late October, it said.

Once the free trade agreement is signed and operationalised, as many as 9,000 products — ranging from steel and apparel to drugs and machinery — may be traded either without duty or at substantially reduced tariffs.

On the India-Japan CEPA, Secretary in the Commerce Ministry Rahul Khullar had recently said that there have been significant movement on many outstanding issues.

In the negotiations, Japan has asked for reduction of tariffs on vehicle parts, its key export to India, the report said.

While India is calling on Japan to simplify the approval procedures for the sale of generic drugs and to expand job opportunities for Indians hoping to work in Japan, it added.

Through the arrangement, Tokyo aims to stimulate Japan’s economic growth by boosting exports of cars and auto parts to India, accounting for less than one per cent of Japan’s total trade in value terms, it said.

The pact may keep a number of items, sensitive to the agriculture and employment-oriented sectors, out of the purview of both countries.

If concluded, the accord would be the 12th such trade deal for Japan and the first since the Democratic Party of Japan-led coalition wrested power from the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party in September 2009, the report said.

The bilateral trade between India and Japan has more than doubled over the past four years to USD 10.3 billion in 2009-10.