Economy

Shinzo Abe ready to meet Modi at bilateral summit just before retirement

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on September 02, 2020 Published on September 02, 2020

Tokyo wants India-Japan Summit on September 10; date being discussed with New Delhi

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan is ready to meet his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi later this month at the virtual India-Japan Summit, tentatively fixed for September 10, in probably a final interaction in his official capacity, as he prepares to step down from his post later this month, an official from Japan has confirmed.

“Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will meet Prime Minister Modi at the India-Japan Summit. The announcement of his retirement has not led to a change in his decision to participate in the meet. Japan has proposed the date of September 10 for the meeting and the date is being discussed with India,” a Japanese government official told BusinessLine.

There are indications that India would agree to September 10 or a date close to it for the Summit as delaying it could be an inconvenience for the Japanese government. A successor to Abe within the Liberal Democratic Party needs to be chosen in the week beginning September 14, according to reports in the Japanese media.

Abe, the longest serving Prime Minister in Japan by consecutive days in office, announced his retirement on August 28 on account of ill health. In his second stint as PM which began in 2012, Abe visited India thrice, which was a record number of visits for any Japanese PM.

The India-Japan Summit scheduled this month will be significant as the two sides are likely to sign an important military logistics agreement, the Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement (ACSA), according to Indian officials.

The two leaders will also focus on measures that would attract more investments from Japan, including those moving out of China due to Covid-19 uncertainties, and also ways to sort out hurdles faced by about 200 projects from Japan stuck in India due to various reasons. Japan is the fourth-largest investor in India, after Mauritius, Singapore and the Netherlands, accounting for cumulative foreign direct investment (FDI) of $33.5 billion during the 2000-20 period, accounting for 7.2 per cent of India’s total inflows.

New Delhi will also raise the matter of moving towards more balanced trade between the two countries and may stress on the importance of Japan importing more items from India to bridge the trade deficit between the two countries.

India’s exports to Japan in 2019-20 stood at $4.5 billion, a decline of 7 per cent over the previous year, while its imports were $12.43 billion, a 2 per cent drop over the last fiscal. New Delhi has been arguing that its bilateral trade deficit with Japan of about $8 billion could be bridged to some extent if it imports more items such as steel, marine products, processed agriculture, agro-chemicals, plastics, carpets, clothing and footwear which India was already exporting to other markets.

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Published on September 02, 2020
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