By Biswajit Choudhury
New Delhi, Sep 3 (IANS) India Inc sees a big leap in Japan’s business interest in India, with the commitment of $35 billion in infrastructure a case in point, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned home Wednesday after a five-day visit to this East Asian nation.
This optimism, the stakeholders added, got a boost with Modi assuring Japanese investors a “red carpet” instead of “red tape” and even walking the extra mile by announcing a team in his office with two Japanese nominees to fast-track their investment proposals.
On the trade front, the industry saw no difficulty in realising the stated intent of raising the value of annual bilateral merchandise shipments exchanged between the two countries to $50 billion in five years from the current level of $16 billion.
“The visit marks a defining moment in our relationship. It will be registered in history as one that significantly elevated the level of India-Japan engagement across areas,” said Sidharth Birla, president of the leading industry chamber Ficci.
“We are particularly enthused about the launch of the Japan-India Investment Promotion Partnership in which the two sides have agreed to double the flow of foreign investment into India and the number of Japanese companies over the next five years,” he added.
Japan, in fact, has pledged support for virtually every project Modi has spoken about in his 100 days in office — such as infrastructure, transport links, including high-speed trains, smart cities, Ganga rejuvenation, clean energy, skilling and food processing.
This is no loose talk. All this — and more — has been incorporated in the 3,300-word document which emerged after bilateral talks between Modi and his counterpart Shinzo Abe — the Tokyo Declaration for India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership.
These were not passing remarks when Prime Minister Abe, after overseeing the signing of several agreements between the two sides with his Twitter-mate Modi, said: “Our bilateral relationship is one with the most potential in the world.”
Another industry association, the PHD Chamber, said the visit had resulted in combining “Abenomics” and “Modinomics” into what it termed as “Modi-Abe Dynamics” and said both Japanese and Indian investors will look forward to enhanced collaboration.
“We expect future Indo-Japan ties to further cement, motivating the latter companies’ number going up from 1,000 to over 1,500 in the next five years, and India agreeing to allow these companies to operate on its exclusive economic zones,” it said.
A Japanese perspective was provided by NEC India, a subsidiary of NEC Corporation – Japan’s leading IT and networking company.
“Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Japan is set to take the relations between the two countries to newer heights,” said Koichiro Koibe, managing director, NEC India.
It can be argued that the big leap in economic ties after Modi’s visit in a situation where bilateral trade declined to $16.3 billion in 2013-2014 as compared to $18.5 billion the year before could not have occurred without a favourable political context.
This context was provided by the elevation of ties that were till now in the framework of a “strategic partnership” into a “special strategic partnership”, agreed on during Modi’s visit.
A major dimension of the strategic partnership is the cooperation on defence and security issues since 2001, when the bilateral Comprehensive Security Dialogue was inaugurated. Further institutionalization of bilateral security cooperation continued, with the two countries issuing the Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation in October 2008.
(Biswajit Choudhury can be reached at email@example.com)