Japan, India meet to lay groundwork for reaching FTA

Kyodo | Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Japan, India meet to lay groundwork for reaching FTA

TOKYO, Sep. 8, 2010 (Kyodo News International) — Senior government officials from Japan and India held talks Thursday in Tokyo 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.

Japan is hoping to reach a broad agreement with India on an economic partnership agreement during the subcabinet-level talks ahead of the planned visit to Japan by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in late October, which is seen as an opportunity for the two countries’ leaders to ink an EPA.

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.

Negotiations for a Japan-India EPA started in January 2007. An EPA goes beyond an FTA, which aims mainly to remove tariffs on goods and trade barriers for services, by also covering areas such as intellectual property rights and facilitation of human exchange.

Through the arrangement, Tokyo aims to stimulate Japan’s economic growth by boosting exports of cars and auto parts to India, a market that has a population of 1.2 billion — the second largest after China — but accounts for less than 1 percent of Japan’s total trade in value terms.

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

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source: Kyodo News