In­dia, Ja­pan start work on high­speed train dur­ing Abe visit

Malta Independent - - BUSINESS | CLASSIFIEDS -

In­dia and Ja­pan launched work on a high-speed train line in the west­ern In­dian state of Gu­jarat on Thurs­day dur­ing a visit by Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe.

The “bul­let train” will link Ah­mad­abad, the main com­mer­cial city in In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s na­tive state, to In­dia’s fi­nan­cial cap­i­tal of Mum­bai.

The 500-kilo­me­ter (310-mile) pro­ject will be fi­nanced by a Ja­panese credit of $17 bil­lion and is ex­pected to be com­pleted by 2022. The loan car­ries a nom­i­nal in­ter­est rate of 0.1 per­cent to be paid over the next 50 years.

Abe and Modi also laid the foun­da­tion stone for an in­sti­tute that will be set up in Gu­jarat’s Vado­dara city to train around 4,000 peo­ple to run the high­speed train sys­tem.

An­a­lysts say build­ing the train line will give a boost to in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment in In­dia’s fast-grow­ing west­ern in­dus­trial re­gion, con­trib­ute to eco­nomic growth and de­con­gest crowded cities.

“A strong In­dia is in Ja­pan’s in­ter­est and a strong Ja­pan is in In­dia’s in­ter­est,” Abe said af­ter he and Modi pressed a but­ton at the foun­da­tion lay­ing cer­e­mony for the train line.

Talks be­tween Modi and Abe fo­cused on se­cu­rity at a time when both coun­tries share con­cerns about a ris­ing China, an In­dian of­fi­cial said.

The two coun­tries made progress on an Asia-Africa growth ini­tia­tive to pool In­dian and Ja­panese ef­forts to strengthen in­fra­struc­ture in African coun­tries, In­dian For­eign Sec­re­tary S. Jais­hankar told re­porters.

Fol­low­ing the talks, of­fi­cials from In­dia and Ja­pan signed 15 agree­ments aimed at widen­ing and deep­en­ing their part­ner­ship, in­clud­ing an “open skies” pol­icy to pro­mote more flights be­tween the two coun­tries, an ac­cel­er­a­tion of Ja­panese in­vest­ments in In­dia and a pol­icy of en­hanc­ing con­nec­tiv­ity in In­dia’s re­mote north­east­ern states that bor­der China.

Jais­hankar said Ja­pan raised con­cerns about North Korea fol­low­ing its re­cent nu­clear test.

“There was a lot of dis­cus­sion un­der­stand­ably on North Korea. Ja­pan un­der­lined its con­cerns in strong terms and it was an is­sue where there was a com­plete meet­ing of minds,” Jais­hankar said. In­dia will fully ob­serve a U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion on tight­en­ing sanc­tions again North Korea, he said.

The two coun­tries also stressed the im­por­tance of hold­ing ac­count­able all coun­tries that have sup­ported North Korea’s nu­clear and mis­sile pro­grams, a ref­er­ence to China.

Trade be­tween Ja­pan and In­dia at $15 bil­lion is only a quar­ter of In­dia’s trade with China. Ja­pan is cur­rently In­dia’s third largest in­vestor.

The coun­tries are al­most po­lar op­po­sites. In­dia’s chaotic cities and its youth­ful pop­u­la­tion con­trast starkly with Ja­pan’s or­derly so­ci­ety, im­mac­u­late streets and ma­ture econ­omy. But those dif­fer­ences com­ple­ment each other, and Abe and Modi re­peat­edly em­pha­sized shared in­ter­ests and val­ues.

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