Home/ Companies / People/  ‘JICA projects to help Indian private sector break into Southeast Asia’

NEW DELHI : Key infrastructure projects funded by Japan like the Matarbari port in Bangladesh are expected to provide an entry point for Indian business to establish a foothold in Southeast Asia, Japan International Cooperation Agency senior vice-president Nakazawa Keiichiro said. By establishing a deepwater port in Bangladesh, JICA hopes to connect India’s north-eastern states to markets in the Bay of Bengal region, Keiichiro said in an interview. In a sweeping review of Japan’s global development assistance plans, JICA praised India’s contributions to infrastructure building in East Africa. This comes in the backdrop of Japan’s development agency looking to boost its global investments in private sector projects to $15 billion in the coming years, with a focus on Indian projects. Edited excerpts:

Which projects does the JICA look to push in India presently?

JICA has been working in India since the late 1950s. During the first few decades, we helped import electrical equipment and build numerous power projects to help industrialize the country. During the 1991 economic crisis, we provided $300 million in balance of payment support. Today, most of our collaboration with India is in the infrastructure sector. We are also proud of our projects in forest restoration.

What plans do you have for the future?

Looking at the future, we are definitely looking at the projects in renewable energy. India is looking to achieve net-zero emissions by 2070 and also wants to provide power to the most vulnerable sections of society. Renewable technologies like green hydrogen and carbon capture technology are being studied globally, but we are very keen to help introduce these technologies once they become economically viable.

We are also looking to increase our cooperation with the private sector. Even though our loans are concessional, the Indian government is careful not to increase debt levels too much. We will now look to finance or do equity participation in private projects.

We have been doing this since 2011 and have six ongoing projects with a total exposure of $400-500 million. Most of these projects are in the realm of social impact. Globally speaking, we have committed around $10 billion to private sector projects and we are looking to increase that to $15 billion in the next few years.  

Certain JICA projects like the Matarbari port seemed to hold much promise for the neighbourhood. What is the thinking behind these connectivity efforts?

The development of the Bengal bay is very important for India and other regional countries like Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand. We are assisting the Bangladesh government in building the Matarbari Port because the country does not currently have a good deep-water port. With Matarbari, we would have a port that could be utilized by the government and the Indian private sector as a focus point to deliver goods to parts of Southeast Asia.

We are hearing about the possibility of a global recession shaping up in Europe and America. How is this likely to impact your organization’s projects in India?

I just participated in the IMF and World Bank annual meeting in Washington last week. The good news is that even though there is uncertainty in the global economy because of inflation and the Ukraine war, India’s growth will be very solid according to numerous estimates. The Asian Development Bank estimates that it will be around 7%. India has been and will be an engine of global growth. JICA will look to support that growth. India is a very important country not only for Japan but for the world.

India and Japan have also cooperated to build infrastructure globally. How successful have these efforts been?

In parts of East Africa like Kenya, which speak English, there are many members of the Indian diaspora living and working in those parts of the world. As such, India has a great deal of knowledge about the culture and what needs to be done. So, there is an opportunity for India and Japan to collaborate in providing good infrastructure. In those countries, populations happen to be scattered rather than densely concentrated. This means that good quality infrastructure, like a road network system, is missing. This is a real opportunity for India and Japan to collaborate.

There is a perception that Japan has been more successful in using official assistance in India than other countries like the US. What has been behind your country’s success?

There are several reasons. Not many countries in North America and Europe have concessional loan facilities. Germany and France have some of these facilities but not as big a programme as ours. Japan utilized loans for infrastructure in our own history and understands the necessity for this type of concessional funding among developing countries. Since there is such a long history of cooperation between our two countries, there is also a great deal of trust. We also make it a habit to work with our counterparts in Indian government agencies. We work together right from the project planning stage to the eventual implementation.


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Updated: 26 Oct 2022, 01:02 AM IST
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