India, Japan to sign two agreements tomorrow

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On Board Prime Minister's Special Aircraft, Oct 21 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Japanese counterpart Taro Aso are likely to sign two agreements on setting up a new IIT, most likely in Hyderabad, and a Delhi-Mumbai Dedicated Freight Corridor as part of the continuing efforts to strengthen ties between the two countries in the past four years.

At the annual summit meeting between India and Japan, the fourth in the series, they will also announce a Joint Declaration resolving to step up anti-terrorism measures.

A top External Affairs Ministry official accompanying Dr Singh on his three-day visit to Japan said here today that the priority of India was to get access into the Japanese agricultural and pharmaceutical markets as early as possible but Japan was extremely sensitive to its agricultural products with its domestic pharmaceutical sector being highly protected.

"More the access, the better for us," he said .

There are indications that India will not sign a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Japan as part of the ongoing negotiations for the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).

"What is important for us is market access and tariffs don't matter." The official said they were not sure how much Japan would open up as the Far Eastern country had a tightly protected economy.

"We would like to get as much access as possible." He said Dr Singh will not discuss any proposal regarding civil nuclear agreement with Japan.

In this context, the official pointed out that political groups within Japan were still hesitant on a nuclear deal because of their past experience in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Therefore, they were nervous on cooperating with any other country on a nuclear agreement.

"Let it evolve. We are ready when they are ready," the official said, while pointing out that India was grateful to Japan for going with the consensus in NSG and IAEA when the Indo-US nuclear deal came up for consideration before these bodies.

The Government was planning two dedicated freight corridors- Western and Eastern Corridors. While Japan would partially fund the Western Corridor, the Eastern Corridor would be funded by the Indian Railways, Prime Minister's Principal Secretary T K A Nair told UNI.

He said the Western Corridor would transform the industrial landcape of India. He said work on both the Corridors would begin soon and be implemented simultaneously.

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