Sitharaman urges firms to exploit free trade accord with Japan

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New Delhi, Oct 6 (IANS) Indian companies should much more utilise the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), or free trade accord, to increase exports to Japan and help bridge the trade deficit, the government said on Thursday.

“There are opportunities for Indian companies to utilise this agreement much more as trade deficit is a matter of concern,” Union Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said at a seminar here organised by Research and Information Systems for Developing Countries.

“CEPA between India and Japan came into force on 1st August, 2011, and is one of the most comprehensive agreements concluded by India,” she said.

The bilateral CEPA has covered areas such as goods and services, rules of origin, intellectual property, government procurement, and customs procedure, among others.

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The minister said bilateral trade pre-CEPA in 2010 was $10.4 billion and currently it stands at $14.5 billion.

“However, trade deficit with respect to Japan was $3.1 billion pre-CEPA, and now it is $5.2 billion,” she added.

Sitharaman also said Indian traders and manufacturers must find greater market access in Japan.

“The share of Indian companies in Japanese drug market continues to be low and it is limited only to Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients. So more has to be done in that area,” she said.

Japan’s pharmaceutical sector offers a vast untapped potential for India’s medicine companies, she said.

The Japanese government’s recent decision “to attain an 80 per cent share of generic medicines by 2018, should naturally provide an opportunity for the internationally acclaimed generic drug industry of India,” the minister added.

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