India, Japan to conclude trade pact by 10

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 30 2009, 08:50am hrs
In a bid to boost trade ties, India and Japan on Tuesday agreed to wrap up talks on the proposed Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) by next year as well as simplify their visa regulations.

We have decided to expedite our negotiations on the CEPA in order to conclude a high quality and balanced agreement. We are hopeful that this can be completed in time for the next Annual Summit meeting, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said addressing a joint press conference with his Japanese counterpart Yukio Hatoyama.

After wide ranging talks on the issue, Singh and Hatoyama also instructed their officials to work out the remaining issues left in the way of inking the trade pact, negotiations for which began in 2007.

Agreeing with Singh on the need to firm up CEPA as soon as possible, Hatoyama said main concerns in the way of the pact need to be addressed at the earliest. Sectors like services and pharmaceuticals are the main areas of divergence between the two countries.

The CEPA is expected to further trade between the two countries, especially in areas of urban infrastructure, high technology, and renewable and energy efficient technologies. According to Indian official figures, the two-way trade for 2008-09 stood at $10.6 billion, with imports accounting for $7.6 billion. Comparatively, India-China trade is over $40.6 billion.

The two prime ministers shared the view that economic relations between India and Japan would develop even further as a result of the conclusion of the EPA/CEPA, the statement said.

Singh said he had conveyed to Hatoyama that India welcomes Japanese investments into the country, and the growth of India's economy offers huge opportunities to substantially increase bilateral trade and economic cooperation.

Meanwhile, India also requested Japan to liberalise its visa system to enable growth of trade investment and people-to-people contact. I raised (with Hatoyama) the Japanese visa system and requested to have this looked into as the means promoting increased cooperation in trade, investment in particular in hi-technology areas, Singh said.

Hatoyama also sought cooperation from the Indian side with regard to procedure for visa issuance because the major projects (involving Japanese citizens) were not only beneficial for the two countries but was also for the global economy.

As a special case, India has already introduced visa on arrival for Japanese citizens.

Japanese assistance for Sahara project

The Sahara group plans to convert its Aamby Valley City, in Lonavala near Pune, into an environment and energy-efficient model for the world in cooperation with Japan.

Subrata Roy Sahara, managing worker & chairman of Sahara India Pariwar, discussed this with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama in a closed-door meeting in Delhi on Tuesday.