New Delhi is seeking access to Japanese markets for agricultural products, pharmaceuticals and a basket of services
India and Japan today resumed talks on a free trade agreement (FTA) that will break duty and other barriers for bilateral investment and commerce in goods and services, reports PTI.
“India is seeking market access in the world’s second largest economy mainly for its agricultural products and pharmaceuticals. Besides, information technology, English-teaching and paramedical services are of interest to us,” a commerce ministry official said.
Officials from the two countries have already held over a dozen rounds of discussions without resolving basic differences, which are holding up the agreement.
The last meeting of the joint task force negotiating the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) was held in October 2009 in Tokyo.
Though bilateral trade has more than doubled over the past four years to about $11 billion in 2008-09, it is considered very low compared to India’s merchandise engagement with China, the fastest growing economy of the world and Asia.
Trade between India and China was worth $42 billion in 2008-09 with aggressive exports of $32.50 billion to the Indian economy.
Japan's tariffs for a lot of agricultural commodities have remained high. Also, sectors such as oilseeds, dairy products, sugar and sugar products face higher tariffs there.
Non-tariff barriers like health standards are also a roadblock for Indian shipments.
“In terms of standards and technical regulations, Indian goods often find it difficult to meet Japanese requirements,” the official added.
For instance, agricultural products exported to Japan have to undergo a dual inspection and quarantine system, first by its ministry of agriculture, forestry and fisheries and then the health ministry.
In the three-day meeting, officials of both the countries will also deliberate on trade in services and investments, a key area of interest for India. Negotiations for the FTA began in January 2007.
Indian has already signed FTAs with the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc, besides South Korea and Sri Lanka.