In a bilateral meeting with the Japanese Finance Minister at Hanoi, Vietnam today, the Finance Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee expressed deep concern and sympathy over the recent natural calamities in Japan and extended all possible assistance. Shri Mukherjee said that India attach great priority to Strategic & Global Partnership with Japan and there is strong political consensus in India on the importance of advancing this partnership in all areas. He expressed confidence about continuity of India’s Japan policy despite changes in Japan’s government. He pointed out that in recent years, the bilateral relationship between the two countries have moved from strength to strength. Both the countries have a mutual stake in each other’s prosperity and progress, particularly during these times of economic crisis, added the Minister.

The Finance Minister said that signing of CEPA on 16th Feb. 2011 (Yet to be ratified by Japanese Parliament) is an important mile stone in trade and economic relations between the two countries. After the CEPA comes into force, the bilateral trade is likely to increase substantially as has happened in the case of South Korea where after coming in to force of CEPA the bilateral trade during the first year increased by more than 40%, said Shri Mukherjee. Emphasizing that CEPA will provide win-win situation for both the countries, the Finance Minister said that with CEPA there will be more investment flow from Japan to India and Japan will get access to huge Indian market for its products. Indian professionals will be able to provide their services in Japan. Indian pharmaceutical companies will get treatment similar to Japanese companies in the matter of registration and release of generic medicine in the Japanese market.

The Finance Minister invited the Japanese Finance Minister to India for the 25th (silver jubilee) Anniversary of ADB’s interface with India which is likely to be held from 17th to 19th October, 2011.

The Finance Minister said that in the wake of Chinese policy of raising the prices of rare earths and stopping supplies globally, collaboration in exploring rare earths reserves in India will be beneficial for both countries.

Shri Mukherjee emphasized that India and Japan need to work together to ensure that the Doha round of negotiations are concluded in a mutually beneficial way at the earliest possible and extended full support for the Japanese initiative for Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement in East Asia (CEPEA), aimed at building a more inclusive trade alliance in East Asia.

Finance Minister expressed happiness at Japanese support for big infrastructure projects such as dedicated freight corridor & Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor. He also appreciated Japan’s active involvement in the establishment of a new IIT in Hyderabad.

It may be recalled that India has been the largest recipient of ODA (Official Development Assistance) from Japan for the seventh consecutive year. As on March, 2011, 59 projects are under implementation with Japanese loan assistance & amount committed is approx Rs. 58000 crores (3.3 Trillion Yen). Trade statistics have also shown a marked increase in calendar year 2010. India’s exports to Japan increased 51% to reach US$ 5.64 Billion while India’s imports from Japan increased 42.2% to reach US$ 9.02 Billion. Japan ranks 6th largest in FDI inflow into India accounting for 3.62% of total FDI inflows into India.

India has also received good cooperation from Japan in International forums, including on the issue of reform of UN Security Council & regional architecture building in Asia.

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