Japan Executives Weigh India's Manufacturing Potential

Japanese business executives began an 11-day visit to India on Sept. 22, to investigate its potential as a manufacturing base that could rival China. Japan is the fourth largest foreign investor in India and has been looking to improve ties with New Delhi amid strained political relations with China. As many as 40 representatives of Japanese industry will be in India, according to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, which is organizing a meeting between the two commercial bodies. The delegates include senior executives from the automobile, chemical, electronic components and banking industries.

One of the purposes of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce mission was to "explore the potential of India, whose population is over one billion, as a manufacturing base, which could challenge China's manufacturing role as India continues its steady development," the chamber said in a statement.

India and Japan signed a symbolic agreement earlier this year to encourage small- and medium-sized Japanese businesses to invest in Indian manufacturing. Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath said on a visit to Japan in June this year that he expected the two countries to have a free-trade agreement by the end of the year.

Japan has been increasingly pursuing free trade pacts to secure access to raw materials and markets for its exports amid a deadlock in global trade talks.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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