Chennai: Japanese firms are keen to invest in India's mining and infrastructure development sectors, a visiting minister from the East Asian industrial powerhouse said Saturday.
Hideichi Okada, Japan's Vice-Minister for International Affairs at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, also said talks between the two countries on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) are progressing well.
Speaking to reporters after signing a Letter of Intent (LoI) with the Tamil Nadu government here, he said his country has agreed to reduce tariffs in the area of generic drugs, as well as ease work permit-related restrictions against Indians.
To a query, he said Japanese mining companies are interested in exploring the potential in mining rare earth in the country.
On Saturday's LoI with the Tamil Nadu government, he said around 40 Japanese companies are interested in investing in the state. A working group has been set up to look at investment opportunities for Japanese companies in Tamil Nadu, he added.
Principal Industries Secretary Rajeev Ranjan and Hidenobu Teramura, the Director of the Financial Corporation Division under Japan's Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry, signed the LoI.
Deputy Chief Minister M K Stalin, who spoke after the LoI was signed, said 300 of the 725 Japanese companies in India are located in Tamil Nadu and the CEPA between the two nations will further improve economic relations between them.
Okada said the quality of labour and Chennai's strategic location on the Bay of Bengal are some of the reasons that Tamil Nadu is the target of large-scale foreign investment.
He "expected tens of thousands of cars" of Japanese auto-makers such as Nissan will be exported from the Ennore port near the city soon.
Saying rapid growth resulted in challenges such as pollution and shortage of power supply, Okada said his country had faced similar problems, but solved them through technology.
"Technology is the key for making growth environment-compatible. We are ready to share the lessons learnt in this regard and work with the people of Tamil Nadu, he added.