India, Japan to meet next month on free trade pact

Written by Press Trust of India | New Delhi | Updated: Jan 1 2010, 03:00am hrs
Receiving a political push at the top, officials from India and Japan would meet here two weeks from now to take forward negotiations on the market-opening pact. Negotiators would work on narrowing gaps in services and pharmaceuticalsareas of interest to India. However, Japan has several apprehensions about opening these sectors, an official said.

The Indian pharma industry, which gets 45% of its $20-billion revenue from export, is seeking market access in Japan that has a tough control regime for drug imports.

Japan is also apprehensive about giving access to Indian professionals in services, which contribute about 55% to the Indian economy, the official said. Launched in 2007, the officials have completed 12 rounds of talks.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Japanese counterpart Yukio Hatoyama had instructed their officials on Tuesday to sort out the issues in the way of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (Cepa).

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 stands at over $40.6 billion. India has signed market opening pacts with 10-member Asean bloc and Korea which will operationalise from January 1.