New Delhi: First, it was Indian mangoes for American Harley-Davidson bikes. Now, it’s Indian nurses for Japanese tugs.
If the commerce ministry has its way, when India and Japan sit down for another round of free trade talks later this year, India will push for Japan to allow easy entry and work permits for between 30,000 and 40,000 Indian nurses and in exchange will be willing to open up the market for Japan-made heavy goods and transportation equipment, said a senior official in the commerce ministry.
“We will make it easier for them to set up logistics operations,” said this government official who didn’t want to be named.
He said India was pushing Japan to open up several other sectors, including drugs.
The official said New Delhi is looking for Tokyo to have a provision similar to that of one signed between Japan and the Philippines, under which Filipino nurses can work there and are also taught Japanese for a year. In return, India would agree to give Japan greater access for transportation equipment, including tugs used to move ships as well as lower rates of duty. Rules involving setting up of logistics firms in India would also be eased, this person said.
India and Japan have already concluded a few rounds of the Free Trade Agreement talks and both the countries are expected to sign the agreement by the end of the year, he said. Japan, otherwise known for its resistance to immigration, has been opening up to allow more foreigners to work in the country party because its population is aging rapidly.
The number of foreign workers in Japan went up to 770,000 people in 2005 from slightly more than 600,000 a decade ago, according to the country’s 2005 census.
In recent years, India has been able to use trade quid pro quo deals to push for exports. Last year, the US allowed the import of Indian mangoes, after an 18-year gap, in lieu of bike maker Harley being allowed to sell its bikes here.