India, Japan to conclude free trade pact shortly

April 30th, 2010 - 10:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, April 30 (IANS) India and Japan are expected to conclude their proposed bilateral free trade pact to liberalise economic ties at the earliest, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said Friday.
“The two countries are already engaged in Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) negotiations and we will be able to clear this before the next bilateral summit takes place,” Sharma said at the third ministerial meeting of the Japan-India Policy Dialogue (JIPD) here.

The summit is scheduled later this year in Japan and will be attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh besides Sharma.

The Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Naoshima Masayuki was also present.

Bilateral trade between the two countries has doubled over the past four years to about $11 billion during 2008-09.

The two sides discussed the progress of the ongoing CEPA negotiation.

“The ministers have told the negotiators to accelerate the pace and to solve the remaining issues toward conclusion of a balanced and mutually beneficial agreement at the earliest,” a joint statement issued by the two governments said.

Difficulties faced by Indian exporters in sectors like footwear and agricultural products like tea, coffee and mangoes to Japan were also discussed at the meeting.

Officials from the two countries had held talks here for three days earlier this month. According to officials, the two sides are understood to have resolved several stumbling blocks to the market opening pact.

Issues like liberalising pharmaceuticals and services sector have been resolved.

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