India deplores developed world's double standards on trade

Wednesday, 18 February 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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MUMBAI: Indian Commerce Minister Arun Jaitley Tuesday hit out at developed countries for adopting protectionist practices even as they ask developing countries to open up.

Talking to reporters at the GCC-India Industrial Conference here, Jaitley said developed countries that practise protectionism should not expect developing countries to open up their markets in sensitive sectors like agriculture.

Clearly irked at American attempts to block business process outsourcing (BPO) to India, Jaitley said the US should not expect India to open its markets even as it blocks the movement of jobs to India.

"Asking us to open our agriculture or other sectors even while they try to close the BPO sector is not in keeping with international trade fundamentals that people would buy goods and services where they are cheap," Jaitley said.

He said India was looking towards a free trade area pact with Middle East countries.

Jaitley said he was urging leaders of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to invest in India and take advantage of the investor-friendly climate.

"We have simplified procedures and investors earn far more returns in India than in other parts of the world," Jaitley said.

He was among the participants in the talks between the GCC and the Indian government. The talks began in Mumbai Tuesday.

According to the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), GCC countries' exports to India increased from $1.6 billion in fiscal year 2001-02 to an estimated $1.9 billion the following year.

Around 150 GCC delegates are here for the conference. Saudi Minister of Commerce and Industry Hashim bin A. Yamani is leading the visiting delegation that also comprises heads of various commerce chambers.

The GCC comprises the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Oman.

In his statement, Abdulrahman bin Hamad al Attiyah, secretary general of the GCC, called for broad-based economic cooperation between Gulf countries and India.

GCC, established in 1981, has over the years emerged as a successful example of efforts aimed at regional economic cooperation and integration. It has set a timetable for establishing customs union and monetary union by 2005 and single currency by 2010.

Indian industrialists say companies here must make use of the developments to bolster trade in the region.

Source: IANS
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