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|November 25, 1999||
Jaswant Singh invites Japan to invest in India
External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh today exhorted Japanese business and industry to invest in India in a major way as his government would unfold an ''ambitious economic reform programme'' over the next three months to make the investors' task easier.
Addressing a joint meeting of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Japan India Business Cooperation Committee, Singh said the reforms would include privatisation of insurance sector, fine-tuning of the telecom sector, development of infrastructure such as highways, airports and ports and better currency management.
Stating that Japan, the largest exporter of capital in the world, had invested only one per cent of its potential in India, he said the Japanese should tap the vast rural population in the country which now had the purchasing power to buy new gadgets and machines.
Apparently referring to the Japanese precondition of India signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty before economic sanctions were lifted, Singh cautioned against limiting Indo-Japan relations to a single issue.
Explaining that India had undertaken the nuclear tests in deference to its security concerns, he said the country was aware of the Japanese sensitivity on the nuclear issue.
Singh added that his government would soon initiate the process of building a national consensus on the question of signing the CTBT.
Stating that his government was determined to ''deliver what it had promised,'' Singh said it had given ample evidence in the last 20 months of engaging in structural changes and correcting the mindset of 50 years to carry forward economic reforms.
Allaying fears that a coalition government could contribute to instability, Singh said people had once again voted for a coalition which had a common minimum programme, including the agenda for economic reforms.
Welcoming Singh to the meeting, JIBC chairman Nobuniko Kawamoto said normal India-Japan relations were important for Asia and appreciated the bold economic reforms the Indian government was undertaking.
Urging India to remove the bottlenecks in the way of Japanese investment, he appreciated India's skills in software and other sectors.
Kawamoto said the Japanese businessmen had asked the government to lift economic sanctions against India to enable them to go to India in a conducive atmosphere.
In his closing remarks, JIBC standing committee chairman Jiro Aiko said the destination of the next wave of Japanese investment, after the problems in Japanese economy were sorted out in one or two years, would be India.
He said the Japanese businessmen were not very familiar with the economic conditions in India and a proper climate needed to be created for the flow of Japanese investment.
Later, addressing mediapersons at the Japan National Press Club, Singh said he was entirely satisfied with his talks with Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and Foreign Minister Youei Kono.
Stating that India desired a ''forward-looking'' relationship with Japan, he said during his talks, which were held in a cordial atmosphere, there was evidence of a ''friendly and constructive approach'' on both sides.
Answering a question, Singh said he had not raised the issue of lifting economic sanctions as it was for the Japanese government to decide the appropriate time for doing so.
Listing the several high-level exchanges planned in the coming months between India and Japan together with the decision to initiate a security dialogue and engage in discussions on disarmament and non-proliferation, he said the two governments had taken a conscious decision to build on the forward-looking relationship.
Referring to India's compulsions on undertaking nuclear tests, Singh sought to dispel fears that its nuclear programme was targeted against any particular country or was threat-specific. He added that what India desired was a minimum nuclear deterrent and was committed to voluntary moratorium.
Also, India would honour its commitment to evolve a national consensus on signing the CTBT.
Regarding Pakistan, he said India would resume the dialogue with it after a congenial atmosphere was created by Islamabad through ending cross-border terrorism.
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