India, Japan set to conclude trade pact in 2010: minister

NEW DELHI, April 30, 2010 (AFP) – India and Japan should be able to conclude a free trade pact to liberalise commerce this year, a minister said Friday. Once the free trade agreement comes into effect as many 9,000 products — ranging from steel and clothing to drugs and machinery — are expected to be traded either without duty or at substantially reduced tariffs.

But the pact would keep a number of items, sensitive to the agriculture and employment-oriented sectors, out of the deal.

Each side will also have a so-called “negative list” of items on which duties will not be reduced but India’s list would be bigger, the Press Trust of India said.

Bilateral trade between India and Japan has more than doubled over the past four years to about 11 billion dollars in 2008-09, the latest year for which figures are available. Talks between the two countries had been bogged down over how much to reduce tariffs by and whether Japan will ease its tight regulations to allow Indian generic drugs.

But Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said New Delhi and Tokyo should be able to wrap up a deal in 2010.

“India and Japan ar