New Delhi, Tokyo to hold first economic meet as ties improve

New Delhi, Tokyo to hold first economic meet as ties improve

NEW DELHI - Agence France-Presse
New Delhi, Tokyo to hold first economic meet as ties improve

A worker leaps over stacked sacks of paddy at a wholesale grain market in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh in this file photo. The global economy is set to expand by a modest 3.3 percent this year as a still-smouldering eurozone debt crisis and a relatively slow US recovery continue to leave Asia as the main driver of growth. REUTERS photo

India and Japan are scheduled to hold their first ever “economic dialogue’ today, 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 over the weekend.

“A number of senior ministers and officials from both India and Japan will participate in the ministerial-level economic dialogue,” the ministry said.

Fractions about China

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 was scheduled to arrive in New Delhi late yesterday, 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.

Auto maker Maruti profit slips 3 percent

NEW DELHI – Agence France-Presse

India’s biggest carmaker Maruti Suzuki said on April 28 that its quarterly net profit slipped by three percent, but it still beat analysts’ forecasts after sales rebounded in Asia’s third-largest auto market.

India, one of the world’s fastest-growing car markets in recent years, suffered from a sharp slowdown in demand in 2011 but buyers have flocked back to automobile showrooms in the past few months as consumer sentiment brightened.

Maruti, 54.2 percent owned by Japan’s Suzuki Motor, said net profit fell to 6.4 billion rupees ($122 milllion) in the three months to March from a year earlier, marking its third straight quarterly profit fall. But “profit was higher than anticipated,” noted Dipen Shah, head of fundamental research at India’s Kotak Securities.