India, Japan sign FTA; imports from Japan to become cheaper

Tokyo, Feb 16 (PTI) India today signed its "mostambitious" free trade agreement with Japan, with the two majorAsian economies committing to eliminate import duties on 94per cent of their trade in 10 years.

The FTA is expected to come into force from April thisyear.

Import of consumer goods like electronics - indicatorpanels of LCDs and LEDs, mobile phones including SIM andmemory cards, calculators, electrical - battery chargers,compact discs and DVDs, from Japan to India willbecome duty free as soon as the agreement is implemented.

Textiles like woven and silk fabrics will also becomepart of duty free items.

The pact, the third major by India within a year, willprovide access to Indian professionals like accountants,researchers, yoga and english teachers and managementconsultants to Japanese market hit by ageing population.

The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA),officially named so, was signed here by Japanese ForeignAffairs Minister Seiji Maehara and India�s Commerce andIndustry Minister Anand Sharma.

"The agreement will ensure access to a highly developedJapanese market for the (Indian) pharmaceutical sector withJapan for the first time committing to give the sametreatment for Indian generics as their domestic industry,"India''s Commerce Ministry statement said.

Besides, Indian agricultural products like instant tea,seafood would also find their way into the Japanese market atconcessional duties.

India''s textiles products including readymade garmentsstand to gain significantly in terms of market access toJapan.

Japan would also lower tariffs on petrochemicals,chemical products, jewellery and cement.

Though passenger cars have been kept in the negative listand will not be subject to concessional duties, some of thecritical car parts imported by India-based automobile plantslike that of Suzuki would get duty free treatment.

The CEPA will also cover easing of rules for mutualinvestments.

"India stands to gain significantly through thisagreement where 90 per cent of tariff lines are covered, whileJapan has covered five per cent more tariff lines than India".

However, it has provision for protecting sensitivesectors like some auto parts, edible oils, wines and spirits,agri products like wheat and rice, it said.

The CEPA is expected to give a boost to USD 12.35 billionbilateral trade.

"I am confident that through this agreement our bilateraltrade would double by 2015 and touch USD 25 billion," Sharmasaid.

India has already entered into FTA with Association ofSoutheast Nations (ASEAN) and South Korea.

Under the pact, the two countries will continue talksover the issue of whether to allow Indian nationals to work inJapan as nurses and "caregivers", .

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