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December 10, 2001
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PM asks Japan to take advantage of business avenues in India

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Monday said the expanding business opportunities in India could help stimulate the currently recession-hit economy of Japan, which in turn could, to a significant extent, address New Delhi's developmental needs.

"(Now is) the time to take new and bold initiatives. The fruits of these initiatives may not be visible immediately, but perhaps after a decade", Vajpayee said while addressing a business meeting in Tokyo.

The future generations of the two countries would judge that the leaders did the right thing by forging, in the initial years of this century, a substantive global partnership between them, Vajpayee said.

The meeting was attended by representatives of the Confederation of Indian Industry and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry besides top Japanese businessmen.

Divestment Minister Arun Shourie and Minister of State for External Affairs Omar Abdullah were also present.

Reassuring Japanese businessmen that his government was committed to further reforming the Indian economy, he said, "these reforms have created substantial new opportunities for investment, trade and business collaborations".

Stating that he was aware of the problems and bottlenecks faced by foreign investors in India, the Vajpayee told the delegates that the Centre and the state governments had been making continuous efforts to address these and sought suggestions and ideas from Japanese investors.

"These (suggestions and ideas) will be given serious consideration," he emphasised.

Vajpayee said there is a convergence between Japan's investment surplus and India's developmental needs, and added, "we could create innovative ways of channelling your large-scale and long-gestation investments, with prospects of higher returns than they earn today".

He said India could use Japan's under-utilised industrial capacities and human capabilities, and "we wish to especially benefit from your proven strengths in infrastructure construction and food and total quality management".

Similarly, Vajpayee said, Japan could utilise India's talented IT professionals to address the needs of restructuring its economy, including research and development on next generation technologies.

Japan could also benefit by tapping India's large and well-trained pool of knowledge workers through joint research and development in biotechnology, bio-information, embedded software, optics, new materials and new energy technologies, Vajpayee suggested.

VAjpayee was also of the view that Japanese economy, through the restructuring exercise, could gain significantly by relocating the design, development and manufacturing units of its large and medium companies to India, wherever New Delhi offered comparative advantages.

"Here I can hardly overemphasise the advantage of operating in a country of one billion consumers and an economy that is among the fastest growing in the world", he said.

Pointing out that Japan had a large and growing population of senior citizens, Vajpayee said India could offer diversified health and personal care services to improve the quality of their lives and reduce the cost of insurance and social welfare.

Reiterating the government's resolve to comprehensively develop the Buddhist circuit in India to attract pilgrims and tourists from Japan and other countries, Vajpayee invited Japanese companies to participate in this effort and assured full facilitation from his government.

The PM said the major challenges before any strategy for achieving faster economic growth were protection of environment, promotion of family values and preservation of diverse cultural traditions around the world.

"In their absence, higher standards of living would not translate into lives worth living. Although all nations are confronted with this challenge, I believe that India and Japan's cultural heritage have something to give to the rest of the world in this respect", he said.

Speaking on the occasion, chairman of Japan Chamber of Commerce Nobuo Yamaguchi recalled the new global partnership signed between the two countries in August last year and said it would certainly facilitate further development of the deep ties of friendship between the two countries.

"We turn to this co-operative relationship to find support in overcoming the many difficulties of this challenging period," he said.

Referring to the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries next year, Yamaguchi said, "as members of the private sector, we look forward to actively co-operating and participating in these events with an aim to further deepen the mutual sense of interest and appreciation which exists between the peoples of our two countries".

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