Indian PM opposes protectionism, for rule-based economy (Third Lead)

By Arvind Padmanabhan, IANS
Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NEW DELHI - Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday left for Seoul to attend the G20 Summit saying India opposed “protectionist sentiments” and desired “an open, stable and rule-based international economic development”.

In a statement before taking off for the 5th G20 Summit, the prime minister also said India would actively strive to strike the right balance between global commitments and national interests of countries.

Manmohan Singh underlined that this was the second G20 Summit this year - and the first both in Asia and outside a G8 country.

“This reflects the high expectations the world has from the G20 in moving beyond the immediate crisis that we faced in 2008 to ensuring a sustained and balanced economic recovery in the long term,” said the economist who unleashed India’s sweeping economic reforms in 1991.

“Given the vast development challenges we face, it is in India’s interest to have an open, stable and rule-based international economic environment, whether in the field of trade, investment flows, technology transfers or open markets.

“We have to be particularly wary of protectionist sentiments. There are also developmental imbalances within and between countries, and rebalancing of the world economy is a major challenge.”

He said India would actively seek “to strike the right balance between ensuring its credibility as well as the national interests of countries”.

Apart from the main event, the prime minister will also have a host of bilateral engagements.

These would include meetings with Presidents Lee Myung-bak of South Korea and Felipe Calderon of Mexico and Prime Ministers Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, David Cameron of Britain and Stephen Harper of Canada.

The Indian delegation includes Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who will be the sherpa, or the key pointsperson, at the summit, National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon and Finance Secretary Ashok Chawla.

The G20, originally formed at the level of finance ministers and central bank governors in 1999 after the East Asian economic crisis, has assumed significance after it was elevated to a summit-level forum in 2008 following the ongoing global financial crisis.

Besides India, South Korea, Brazil, the US and Canada, the G20 comprises Argentina, Australia, China, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, Britain and also the European Union.

Ahead of the summit, Manmohan Singh said Monday that the world needed a new balance between deficit and surplus countries, referring to the US and China at the two ends of the spectrum shaking the currency markets.

The Seoul summit is expected to focus on the G20 framework for strong sustainable and balanced growth including an ambitious outcome in the form of the Seoul Action Plan.

Manmohan Singh said in Wednesday’s statement: “We will work with others towards this end, and encourage the G20 to focus on the development agenda which is being introduced for the first time in Seoul.

“We must also give thought to how we can leverage global imbalances to bridge the infrastructure gap between rich and poor nations.

“In the financial sector, we should build upon the process of IMF (International Monetary Fund) reform on which good progress was made last month at the G-20 Finance Ministers meeting with an agreement on shifts in quota shares, including in favour of India, while protecting the voting share of the poorest.”

The prime minister said the summit would also look at issues of regulatory reforms of the financial sector, and consider the new Basel-III norms.

“This is a key area of work, and we must guard against complacency in the pursuit of a strong financial regulatory framework and effective supervision.

“The world economy is on the path of recovery but we should keep our focus on how to optimize global outcomes in an increasingly interdependent world.

“As the Indian economy moves to a higher growth path, and opens to the world, our stake in a stable, inclusive and representative global economic and financial system will only grow.”

Filed under: Economy

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