Improve trade links with Japan for peace, prosperity: Premji

BANGALORE, DEC. 6. With Japan becoming the business hub in the Asian region, it is imperative for India to establish strong business linkages with the country, and this, in turn, will help promote peace and prosperity, according to the Chairman of the Wipro Group, Azim Premji.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Indo-Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IJCCI), Karnataka, Mr. Premji said Japan was looking at four major growth areas — information and communication technology (ICT), bio-technology, medical care and environment. As per estimates, the Japanese ICT sector was likely to touch $ 822 billion, the biotechnology sector $ 250 billion, medical care $ 44 billion, and environment $ 400 billion by 2010.

Importance of synergy

Underlining the importance of establishing exchanges on the economic, human resources and the private sector fronts, Mr. Premji said India possessed high software skills while Japan was known for high-end technology. Synergy would be mutually beneficial, he added.

He, along with former Industries Minister R.V. Deshpande, urged the Japanese Consul-General in Chennai, Ryuzo Kikuchi, to establish a consul office in Bangalore as the trade volumes were increasing. Mr. Kikuchi said that after Chennai, the association in Bangalore was the second, and in January the third such partnership would come up in Hyderabad.

He said it was a dream come true to see such associations in all the metros soon.

Mr. Kikuchi pointed out that the economic relations between India and Japan were rapidly developing, and he was certain that the former would emerge as a major power in the coming years.

Foreign investments

The Senior Investment Advisor of Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), Kazumaso Kuboki, said Japan, with Rs. 11,800-crore investment in India ranked fourth in foreign direct investments.

However, he said Japanese investments in India were not substantial compared to the ASEAN.

But the trends were changing in favour of India as the Japanese believed that investing in China largely involved high risks.

`An emerging market'

Japan, he said, was looking at emerging markets and India was one of them. This could be noticed from the investments made and India had moved up to the third rank from fifth, only behind China and Thailand. In 2003, India was ranked fifth after China, Thailand, U.S., and Vietnam.

The potential for Japanese investments in India to grow was good as it provided excellent human resources and an inexpensive labour force.

Though there were issues such as inadequate infrastructure and lack of a proper information network on investment destinations and also political climate, he said that these could be overcome and the governments had shown the intent for change.

`Committed to reforms'

Mr. Deshpande reiterated that both the Union and State governments were committed to economic reforms and were addressing issues of infrastructure.

Giving a different dimension to the proceedings, Geetanjali Kirloskar of Toyota Kirloskar, said India had to learn a lot when it came to work culture from the Japanese.

The President of the IJCCI, Karnataka, M.K. Ramachandra, said the chamber would facilitate exchanges between the two countries to enhance business potential. Last year, Japanese investment in India was worth $ 4 billion, an increase of 18 per cent from the previous year.

Japan was increasingly looking at outsourcing, and India had to capture that market, he added.

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