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India to ink trade pacts with Japan, Malaysia

India to ink trade pacts with Japan, Malaysia

New Delhi:India is likely to sign two major pacts in February, liberalising trade in goods and services with Japan and Malaysia by slashing or eliminating duties.

Commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma is expected to visit Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur between 14 and 18 February for signing the pacts - Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with Japan and Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) with Malaysia, an official said.

“Formalities for signing these agreements have been completed," the official said.

The agreements are aimed at reducing or eliminating tariffs over 90 %of the goods traded between the countries. Besides, they include opening of trade in services, an area of particular interest to India.

A framework pact with Malaysia was finalised during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Malaysia in October 2010.

The agreement is expected to come into effect from July and would give a boost to the $8 billion bilateral trade in 2009-10.

India has already opened its trade in goods with the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in January 2010. Malaysia is a member of ASEAN.

The CECA with Malaysia is over-and-above the free trade pact between India and ASEAN countries.

It will give Kuala Lumpur concessions for export of palm oil and related products.

“India will be benefited in sectors like textiles and services (IT, lawyers and accountants) in Malaysia. While Malaysia will get advantage in tourism and event management, besides other areas in India," the official added.

In the CEPA with Japan, both sides would relax barriers on trade in goods, investment, services and movement of professionals, besides enhanced co-operation on protection of intellectual property.

Negotiations on the CEPA which was concluded during Prime Minister Singh’s visit to Tokyo in October last year is expected to be implemented in April.

The agreement would boost the two-way commerce which stood at around $11billion in 2009-10.

India is also looking for Foreign direct investment (FDI) from Japan, besides easy access for its professionals in areas like IT, healthcare and food.

Japanese FDI into India stood at a mere $4.2 billion out of the cumulative $121 billions since 2000.

India has already operationalised comprehensive pacts with South Korea and Singapore and is in final stage of negotiations with the European Union.

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