Indo-Japan trade must regain lost ground: PM

He says knowledge-based industries offer tremendous opportunities for partnership, reports Madhur Singh. In pics: Manmohan Singh's Japan visit

india Updated: Dec 15, 2006 14:32 IST

Japan must regain the ground it has lost to South Korea and China with regard to trade and investment in India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said at a gathering of Indian and Japanese business leaders in Tokyo on Friday.

He was speaking hours before a bilateral meeting with his Japanese counterpart, where the two leaders are going to announce the start of negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement as well as a Special Economic Partnership Initiative.

"I urge you to weigh the initial problems of entry against the long-term profitability and stability of doing business in India," Singh said. He assured that India is committed to improving infrastructure, simplifying taxation regime, reducing tariffs and eliminating red tape.

Thanking Japan for having helped India during the 1991 economic crisis and for its generous ODA, the PM cited India's vast market, sustained rate of growth at 8 per centand status as an open democracy and an open economy as reasons why Japanese business must focus on India. He said Japan must partner India's efforts to create world class infrastructure, saying India needs $500 bn of investment over the next five years, $320bn of this for infrastructure alone. "We happily welcome foreign investment and seek to promote public-private partnership," he said, adding that special mechanisms like "viability gap funding" and an Infrastructure Development Finance Company have been established to facilitate investment in infrastructure.

Singh urged Japan to make the most of the investment opportunities in India's labour-intensive as well as knowledge-based industries, including biotechnology, nano-technology and IT, automobiles and aerospace, textiles and leather and marine products.

In particular, he remarked on India and Japan's IT complementarities — India's expertise in IT software and Japan's in hardware — to urge Japan to exploit India's IT advantage the way the US and EU have.

The PM also laid emphasis on the fact that India wants to make its growth inclusive in terms of equity and environmental sustainability. "Growth has already helped millions emerge from abject poverty," he said, adding that millions had emerged from poverty and joined the consumer market.

"In this journey of unleashing the creativity and enterprise of the Indian people, and seeking growth with equity, we want Japan to be our partner," he said. While referring to the CEPA, he added: "Prime Minister Abe and I are sincerely and deeply committed to breathing new life into our traditional friendship."

First Published: Dec 15, 2006 01:57 IST