NEW DELHI  - India and Japan will hold their first ever “economic dialogue’ on Monday, a move reflecting closer trading ties between two of Asia’s biggest democracies, the Indian government said. The meeting in New Delhi comes after Japan and India last year signed a free trade pact under which the high-tech nation and the South Asian emerging market giant will scrap tariffs on 94 percent of goods within a decade. The first India-Japan Ministerial-level Economic Dialogue will focus on boosting trade and economic ties, India’s foreign affairs ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
“A number of senior ministers and officials from both India and Japan will participate in the ministerial-level economic dialogue,” the ministry said.
Japan has warming commercial and political ties with India, although its activities in South Asia are only a fraction of its investment in China. It is also keen to forge regional partnerships to offset Beijing’s growing might.
The meetings will be chaired jointly by External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and his Japanese counterpart Koichiro Gemba, who is scheduled to arrive in New Delhi on Sunday, the external affairs ministry said.
Japanese automakers have launched a series of new investments in India, mostly around the southern city of Chennai, with the South Asian country an attractive market for Japan due to its growing middle class.
The two sides will also hold a “strategic dialogue” to review issues such as civilian nuclear cooperation and maritime and regional security.
Japan and India launched talks in 2010 on a nuclear cooperation pact that would allow Tokyo to export its cutting-edge technology to the energy-hungry South Asian nation.
Japan is worried that nuclear-armed India has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty but has said as “a matter of basic policy” it is interested in promoting use of Japanese civilian nuclear technology in India.