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“Need stronger commercial partnership with Japan”
May 28, 2013, 8:55 am


The Indian prime minister has embarked on a five-day visit to Japan and Thailand [AP]

Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh has described Japan as a “major player” in the modernisation of Indian industry in the period after economic reforms.

He cited India’s biggest carmaker, Maruti-Suzuki as a model of Indo-Japan partnership that has become a household name in India.

Singh, who arrived in Tokyo on Monday on a three-day visit, said “A stronger commercial partnership between our two countries should be the corner stone of our relationship.”

The lack of quality infrastructure was the single biggest obstacle to achieving high levels of competitiveness in India, Singh urged.

He said government has targeted an investment of around $1 trillion in infrastructure over the 12th plan period, with half of it coming from the private sector and public-private partnership.

“I hope Japanese business will pick up a large share of the investment opportunities that India offers,” he said.

India is committed to taking “hard and difficult” decisions in the long-term interest of the economy, the Indian prime minister said on Tuesday.

He has assured the Japanese industry that the crucial Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime will be in place in an “appropriate type” by 2014.

Singh told leading business leaders at the Keidanren – Japan’s premier chamber of commerce and industry – that the present bilateral trade of $18 billion does no justice to the enormous potential that exists between the two countries.

The government expects the growth rate in the current fiscal (2013-14) to be much better than in the previous year, around six per cent.

“We will do even better in 2014-15,” said the Indian prime minister.

The chairman of Keidanren, Hiromasa Yonekura, said Japanese investors are very keen to promote private-public partnership but were facing hurdles because of the complicated tax regimes in India, drawing an assurance from Singh that his government was determined to overcome these hurdles to enable the country return to the growth path of eight per cent.

The two sides are also firming up plans for Delhi to purchase the US-2, a domestically-developed aircraft used by Japan’s armed forces.

The sale, reported by the Nikkei business daily, would be the first of a finished product made by Japan’s defence industry since Japan’s 1967 self-imposed ban on arms exports.

On Monday, Singh embarked on a five-day visit to Japan and Thailand.

In his departure statement, Singh said he proposed to invigorate India’s relations with Japan in the political, security and energy spheres.

“My visits to Japan and Thailand will add depth and new meaning to our ‘Look East’ policy,” he said.

With inputs from Agencies