India interested in Japan’s bullet train technology


India’s railway system needs huge improvements and Indian Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher says his country is interested in adopting Japan’s bullet train technology.

“The government is looking at how the better quality, the new quality of trains should be introduced” and “shinkansen is one area which we will not ignore,” Kher said in an interview Wednesday during his visit to Tokyo.

“Surely, we will show interest” in bullet trains because the government is studying the possibility of introducing technologies from all over the world, he said. “Japanese technology would definitely be on the agenda.”

The commerce secretary post in India is equivalent to vice commerce minister.

New Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has stressed the need for foreign investment in infrastructure projects, touched on the possibility of introducing shinkansen technology during his election campaign.

While there are growing expectations that infrastructure projects in India will increase with the establishment of a stable government, there is concern that slow administrative procedures as well as regulatory and tax system problems could make it difficult for foreign companies, including Japanese firms, to increase investment in the country.

To better respond to a high level of interest from foreign investors, the Indian government is working toward simplifying its procedures and rules and stabilizing policies so they will be more predictable, Kher said.

Turning to the negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, in which India is not a participant, Kher said his nation can’t at this stage comply with the high level of discipline required of the participants because doing so “would require a significant amount of change in our laws and regulations.”

At the same time, Kher said: “We fully recognize agreements like TPP are going to create a new club which excludes countries like India and therefore make trading by India that much more difficult.

“Maybe at some point in time later on, we will look at” the possibility of joining the TPP.

Kher is visiting Japan with a mission of more than 100 Indian companies taking part in Interphex Japan, Asia’s largest exhibition for pharmaceutical products. Interphex Japan opened in Tokyo on Wednesday for a three-day run.

At a news conference earlier Wednesday, Kher said the Indian drug industry has succeeded in many markets around the world, but “Japan is still an area where more needs to be done.”

With its population rapidly aging, Japan is facing an “urgent need to reduce (medical) costs without sacrificing quality,” Kher said, stressing that he believes the Indian pharmaceutical industry, which is strong in generic drugs, can provide “credible solutions.”