Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is due to start his three-day visit to India on Tuesday. It would be useful to take a look at what he has done on the earlier leg of his three-nation Asia tour.
Abe signed a free trade agreement with Indonesia on Monday. The pact aims to remove 90% of the tariffs on trade between the two countries. This is part of a broader Japanese strategy to break down tariff barriers in East Asia and South-East Asia to promote regional economic cooperation.
In India, in contrast, Abe is likely to focus on investment (especially the $100 billion industrial and freight corridors between Mumbai and Delhi) and broader strategic issues. Or, in other words, investment rather than trade will dominate the talks here.
That’s only to be expected, since India is still a minor trading partner for Japan. But this should change in the years ahead. So, while we should woo investments for now, a trade pact, too, would be welcome later on.