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India, Japan to boost trade ties

February 13, 2004 17:53 IST

Resuming trade talks after a gap of five years, India and Japan on Friday committed themselves to enhance the miniscule $3.5 billion bilateral trade and resolved to address impediments like the rigid labour laws.

Briefing newspersons soon after the 15th round of Indo-Japan trade talks held in New Delhi, Japanese Embassy's Economic Minister Reiichiro Takahashi said both countries exchanged views on macro economic conditions, trade, investment, World Trade Organisation and economic aid.

The Japanese delegation was led by Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Ichiro Fujisaki while the Indian side was represented by commerce ministry special secretary S N Menon.

Describing the talks as "comprehensive and forward looking", he said though India and Japan continued to work closely in areas like defence, trade issues were put on a backburner after the Pokhran test and a slump in Japanese economy.

"We have decided that bilateral trade and investment cannot be segregated. Both go hand in hand," Takahashi said.

After a decade of sluggish growth, the Japanese economy was on the right course now, which would help boost bilateral trade ties, he said adding the Japanese minister complemented the Indian government on economic reforms.

While India expressed concern over ban of export on items like mango and grapes, the Japanese delegation assured to address the issue, he said.

On WTO, India and Japan were of the view that the vexed issue needs to be sorted out and regional free trade agreements could only complement multi lateral talks, he said.

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