Concluding the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with Japan and the civil nuclear issue will be topping the agenda of discussions between India and Japan,during the day long visit of Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada.
The minister who will arrive in New Delhi on Saturday will be on a preparatory visit aimed at firming up the agenda for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s trip to Tokyo later in the year.
Okada who will be here for the India-Japan strategic dialogue,will have talks with the external affairs minister SM. Krishna that will focus on finalising key deliverables during Singh’s visit for his first summit meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan. The two will also hold delegation-level talks on a wide range of bilateral issues,including ways to scale up economic ties and the UN reforms.
During the first ministerial meeting after their dialogue here in July where the two countries discussed issues ranging from counter-terrorism to the UN reforms and anti-piracy operations,the two sides will take stock of negotiations for a CEPA and easing of high-tech trade with India.
According to officials,India is keen that the CEPA is finalised ahead of the prime minister’s visit to that country. The pact is expected to slash tariff duties on around 9,000 products,ranging from steel and apparel to drugs and machinery,and give a big boost to bilateral trade which was estimated to be around $11 billion in 2008-09.
Japanese companies are now planning big investments in India in areas ranging from telecom and auto to pharmaceuticals and power.
With New Delhi’s growing trade relations with South Korea,Tokyo is now keenly looking at the proposed CEPA with a new sense of urgency. Seoul also upstaged Tokyo by launching nuclear negotiations with New Delhi much before Tokyo got into the act. The competition for a share of the Indian market is working in India’s favour,officials said.
Though the prime minister’s visit to Tokyo was scheduled for December,sources have said that it could now be advanced to to an earlier date,probably be be combined with his visit to Vietnam to attend the 16-nation East Asia summit,said the sources.
Both sides sides have held two rounds of nuclear negotiations,after getting a nod from the Japanese Prime minister and are confident of an early closure of a bilateral nuclear accord that will allow top Japanese nuclear companies to sell atomic equipment to India.