India asks Japan to reduce trade surplus before Abe's visit

Reuters New Delhi Dec 10, 2019, 05.56 PM(IST)

Indian PM Narendra Modi and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe (File photo) Photograph:( AFP )

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Bilateral trade between the two countries rose to $17.63 billion in 2018/19 from $10.9 billion in 2008/09

India asked Japan on Tuesday to take steps to reduce the Japanese trade surplus and sought more market access for Indian goods and services, a government statement said, before Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit next week.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Abe plan to hold a summit in eastern India's city of Guwahati on December 15-16. During Modi's visit to Tokyo last year, they agreed to seek closer economic and military ties as both countries are wary of China.

Bilateral trade between the two countries rose to $17.63 billion in 2018/19 from $10.9 billion in 2008/09. The trade balance widened to $7.9 billion in favour of Japan.

Despite India's decision to walk out of an ASEAN-led 15- nation regional free-trade pact, Japan is still hopeful that Modi will reconsider his decision, officials said.

Piyush Goyal, India's trade minister, has raised the issue of the widening trade deficit with his counterpart, Hiroshi Kajiyama. They discussed bilateral trade issues and the next review of the free trade pact, signed by the two countries in 2011.

"Balancing trade is a high priority for India with all partners," said the statement, adding both ministers agreed to ask their officials to prepare a plan to address the issues.

"Despite commitments in CEPA (Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement) from Japan, market access for India’s goods and services remains elusive," it said.

Goyal later told the parliament that the government was committed to further India’s trade interests in all future engagements.