India, Japan sign free trade pact

Tokyo, Feb 16 (PTI) India and Japan today signed acomprehensive market-opening pact to boost bilateral tradebetween the two countries, which currently amounts to USD10.36 billion per annum.

"The agreement, which the two countries had negotiatedsince 2007, will eliminate tariffs on 94 per cent of two-waytrade flows in 10 years after it comes into force," Japanesenews agency Kyodo said.

This is the third Comprehensive Economic PartnershipAgreement signed by India, the others being with Singapore andSouth Korea.

The pact was signed between India''s Commerce and IndustryMinister Anand Sharma and Japanese Foreign Affairs MinisterSeiji Maehara.

Under the agreement, Japan will eliminate duties on 95per cent of its industrial goods and other products and Indiawill do the same on 85 per cent of its goods.

Citing examples, Kyodo said the 10 per cent tariffimposed by India on Japanese exports of lithium batteries, DVDplayers and tractors will be lowered to zero in 10 years,while the 3.6 per cent and 2.5 per cent duty levied by Japanon Indian curry and tea will be eliminated in the same period.

As per the CEPA text, the objective of the agreement isto "liberalise and facilitate trade in goods and servicesbetween the parties (India and Japan)".

The pact would also help in increasing investmentopportunities and strengthen protection for investment andinvestment activities, besides ensuring protection ofintellectual property.

Other objectives of the CEPA include the promotion ofcooperation for effective enforcement of competition laws,an improved business environment and a framework to enhancecloser cooperation in the fields agreed in the agreement.

Japan will have to get the CEPA rectified by itsParliament, sources said.

Indian officials said the pact is likely to be put intoforce by April 1.

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