India, Japan sign CEPA to boost trade

Tokyo, Feb 16 (ANI): Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara signed the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) here on Wednesday to give greater impetus to trade and investments between the two nations.

This agreement is the most ambitious agreement signed by India so far and covers trade in goods, services and investment under its ambit.

This agreement follows from the commitment of the two Prime Ministers in October 2010. India stands to gain significantly through this agreement and 90 percent of tariff lines are covered, while Japan has covered five percent more lines than India.

The agreement has ensured that the sensitive sectors for India are fully protected including agriculture, fruits, spices, wheat, basmati rice, edible oils, wines and spirits and also certain categories of industrial products such as auto and auto parts.

The agreement will ensure access to a highly developed Japanese market for the pharmaceutical sector and for the first time ever Japan has committed to give the same treatment for Indian generics as their domestic industry.

Apart from this, Indian agricultural produce including instant tea, seafood will find their way in the Japanese market. The textile products including readymade garments stand to gain significantly in terms of market access. The Japanese side have also lowered their tariffs for petrochemicals and chemical products, jewellery and cement.

In the services sector, India has obtained considerable concessions including commitments for providing greater access for contractual suppliers, professionals such as accountants, researchers, tourist guides and management consultants who will now be able to provide their services in Japan.

Japan has also committed to cover not only computer engineers but whole range of engineering services such as mechanical, electrical, construction, industrial, design engineers and project management specialists.

For the first time ever, Japan has agreed to grant additional category of instructors for yoga practitioners, classical musical and dance practitioners, chefs and English language teachers.

The agreement also envisages the conclusion of a social security agreement within three years and the negotiations have commenced in January 2011. The negotiations are also on for creating greater openings for Indian nurses and caregivers.

For bilateral investment, India has committed to the current national policy on foreign investment and this signals the greater participation of Japanese investors into Indian economy.

Similarly, the agreement also covers intellectual property rights for the first time and the parameters of our commitments on these are circumscribed by national legislation and agreement in trips.

In his meeting with Foreign Minister Maehara, Sharma set a target of doubling bilateral trade to US $ 25 billion by 2014 and reiterated his suggestion of establishment a Joint Revolving Fund of US $ 9 billion for kick starting the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Project.

The visiting Minister had bilateral discussions with his counterpart METI Minister Banri Kaieda later in the day.

The two ministers reviewed the entire spectrum of bilateral trade and investments relations and agreed that there would be significant enhancement in Japanese investment and technology collaboration especially in infrastructure and value added manufacturing.

They also addressed a 'Business-Government Dialogue', which has emerged out of the suggestion by Japanese Prime Minister at the Summit in October 2010. This dialogue focused on the progress of DMICDC Project and greater SME collaboration.

Sharma also addressed CEOs from India and Japan at a business event organized jointly by CII and Nippon Keidanren. (ANI)

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