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The government will help the private sector tap into the water business in other countries, aiming to garner 6 percent of overseas markets in 2025, a Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry panel said in a report released Monday.

The move comes amid growing concerns that Japanese firms have lagged behind rival European water companies for contracts in such areas as sewage system construction and seawater desalination in developing nations.

The value of overseas water business markets that will be open to private-sector firms is expected to expand to some ¥31 trillion by 2025, according to METI estimates.

Aiming at the 6 percent share, worth ¥1.8 trillion, is the central part of the report agreed on by the panel, which has been studying the market.

The panel’s recommendations will be reflected in a government strategy for economic growth due out in June.

The panel’s analysis shows that a shortage of clean water, especially in emerging economies in Asia, will boost business opportunities in water supply and sewage systems.

The report says the main focus is on building and managing water utility systems, while suggesting that Japanese firms with desalination technologies should aim to win contracts both for delivering knowhow as well as for constructing and maintaining facilities.

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