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Japan Looks to Boost Investment in India

Japan's economy minister and some of the country's top industrialists are in New Delhi discussing billions of dollars worth of new investment in India. VOA's Steve Herman reports from the Indian capital.

The delegation from Japan is spending five days in India, to pave the way for a massive infusion of new investment in the country.

Japanese Economy Minister Akira Amari has been meeting with Indian Trade Minister Kamal Nath to discuss the extent of Japanese participation in the proposed Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor.

The ambitious project, expected to cost up to $100 billion, and to be finished by 2016, will include a 1,500-kilometer freight corridor between India's two largest cities. Also envisioned: new air and sea ports, special economic zones, industrial parks and a 4,000-megawatt power generation facility.

The Indian trade minister on Monday said plans should be finalized by the time Japanese Prime Minister Shintaro Abe visits India late next month. Nath says Japan will not be the sole source of funding for the corridor.

"Part of the money can be driven from the capital markets. There is no problem," he said. "Part will have to be government of India funded. We are going to seek some assistance from Japan. Money will be raised by [Indian] state governments, so it is not going to be one source of money, but a whole basket of various sources."

Amari said the massive project is a "win-win" relationship where the Indian economy will develop and Japanese enterprises will benefit as well.

Amari says Japan will be able to use the industrial platform to export Japanese-branded products made here to Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Japan and India are also trying to make progress on a comprehensive economic partnership ahead of Mr. Abe's visit. The two countries are said to have wide differences on the trade deal, with Japan opposing India's desire for extra safeguards for domestic industries.

Negotiations on the wide-ranging agreement began when Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Japan last year. Despite the size of Japan's economy and India's huge population and surging development, two-way trade remains far below its potential, totaling only about $7 billion annually.

Japanese business leaders say expanding trade will require India to develop adequate infrastructure, simplify its complex regulatory system and reduce corruption.