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Japan, India could have trade pact

Japan is already the fourth largest foreign direct investor in India and the largest institutional investor, Nath said.

india Updated: Jun 16, 2006 11:22 IST

Japan and India could establish a free trade agreement by the end of the year, India's commerce minister said on Thursday.

Closer economic cooperation would be to the advantage of both Asian nations, Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath told reporters during a visit to Tokyo.

"I think by the end of the year we should be able to put an economic partnership agreement with Japan into place," he said, adding that study groups had been discussing the issue for two years and were to make a report in two months.

Japan is already the fourth largest foreign direct investor in India and the largest institutional investor, Nath said.

Nath and his Japanese counterpart Trade Minister Toshihiro Nikai earlier announced an action plan to help smaller Japanese companies invest in India.

"Large Japanese companies have known India, been in India for a long time," Nath said. "But the small and medium-sized enterprises which are a repository of technology and innovation in Japan, we are looking at the Japanese government facilitating them, the Indian government facilitating them to invest in India."

Among other measures, the trade ministry will set up an investment promotion desk for Japanese investors interested in India, the two ministers said in a joint statement.