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01-05-2010, 12:48 AM #1
India, Japan To Ease Visa Rules And Strengthen Economic Ties
India and Japan have decided to ease visa rules within a year to encourage trade and tourism between the two biggest Asians economies. Apart from that, the two countries have also agreed to sign a key economic pact soon. This announcement was announced on Tueasday.
The prominent issues floored at the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Japanese counterpart Yukio Hatoyama included the issue of hassle-free visas and strengthening of economic ties.
"I requested Prime Minister Hatoyama to ensure that Japanese visa system becomes more liberal to enable faster growth of trade, investment and people to people contact," Manmohan Singh told reporters after the meeting.
He said that the Japanese prime minister had pointed out some ‘restrictive features’ in the Indian visa system, which he had promised to look into.
The joint statement issued by the two leaders said, "In order to facilitate two-way travel, they directed the concerned authorities to accelerate the consultation on simplification of visa procedures and to complete it within a year."
India has started a ‘visa on arrival’ scheme for tourists from a group of five countries, including Japan.
This was Hatoyama’s first stand alone visit to an Asian country since his party's surprise victory in the August elections. After the end of his three-day visit, the leader said, "I had a strong desire to come to India before the end of the year. I personally love India and the people of India."
Trade and investment have gone up between the two nations since Tokyo eased sanctions imposed after India's 1998 nuclear tests. But, the two leaders stressed the need of bilateral trade ties to boost the economies.
The two leaders also stressed to resolve the issues to conclude the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Pact (CEPA) by 2010.
"We have decided to expedite our negotiations on the CEPA in order to conclude a high quality and balanced agreement. We are hopeful that this can be completed in time for the next annual summit meeting," Manmohan Singh said.
Pitching for a wider market in the famed Japanese bullet trains in India, Hatoyama said that the present projects including $72 billion Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor and a planned dedicated freight corridor with Japanese assistance would bring benefits to the two nations in Asia.
The Indian PM also stressed on the active cooperation of the two close nations in the fields of urban infrastructure, high technology, and energy efficient technologies.
Japan's investment in India ($5.22 billion) has surpassed that of its investment in China ($3.65 billion). The two sides also plan to scale up their bilateral trade to $20 billion next year.