India to voice concern over protectionism at G20 summit

March 30th, 2009 - 8:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, March 30 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh leaves Tuesday for the G20 summit in London, where he is expected to voice concerns over growing protectionism of rich nations and push for free flow of credit to the developing world to help it tide over the economic crisis.
Briefing newsmen on the eve of the prime minister’s visit for the April 2 summit, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said there was a growing concern that non-trade barriers were being raised in the form of preferences for domestic companies for government procurement and bars on the movement of professionals.

“In all these, we have seen a clear rise in protectionism,” Menon said. “All agree that protectionism will deepen the depression. The question is how this can be achieved and this is where G20 will prove to be useful.”

Besides protectionism, Menon listed some other areas where India would like to see some progress. These are:

-Reform of international financial system

-Augmenting the ability of International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and regional development banks to deal with the kind of crises being faced today

-Reallocation of quotas available as soft loans and development aid to poor and developing countries

-Commitment that flow of credit to poor and developing countries is not stopped because of interventions by the governments in developed world

“There is a general consensus that unless we act together, we will not be able to solve a crisis of such global proportions,” Menon replied, when asked if the divergent views of G20 members were coming in the way of finding solutions.

“Ultimately, our common interest will override our differences.”

The foreign secretary said apart from the G20 summit April 2, the prime minister has a series of other engagements, including bilateral meetings with his host and British counterpart Gordon Brown and US President Barack Obama.

The current global economic crisis, bilateral relations, as also the situation in the South Asian region, especially Pakistan and Afghanistan, are among the issues expected to be discussed during the bilateral meetings.

“The new US administration has said ours was a truly strategic and stand-alone partnership,” Menon said, referring to a recent statement by Washington and the backdrop against which Obama and Manmohan Singh will hold their first official meeting.

The prime minister is scheduled to attend a reception being hosted by the queen April 1 and a banquet the same evening by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the foreign secretary said, summing up the engagements in London.

The G20 comprises Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UK, the US and the EU.

Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who left for London ahead of the prime minister, will be his key aide, or sherpa, during the summit. Ahluwalia will attend the meeting of G20 finance ministers April 1.

Ahead of the G20 meeting, Manmohan Singh held a series of meetings with both his cabinet colleagues and representatives of Indian industry and said he was looking forward to his engagements in London.

“The world today looks at India with respect and hope,” he said Saturday when he met some of India’s top industrialists to hear their views in a bid to firm up India’s position at the G20 summit.

Manmohan Singh said India was respected for its calibrated reforms - of which he was the original author as the country’s finance minister in 1991 - and that it had resulted in the country’s growth with justice.

At the same time, the prime minister added, the world also had great hope from the country, as it was seen as an engine of growth for the global economy as a whole.

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