Vajpayee calls for depoliticising economic cooperation

Monday, 24 February 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee Sunday called for depoliticising economic cooperation and strengthening South-South trade and investment linkages as part of an agenda for "remaking NAM".

KUALA LUMPUR: In an address at the NAM Business Forum, organised by the Asian Strategic Leadership Institute (ASLI), Vajpayee also proposed an international regulatory levy on unstable financial flows to protect developing economies from the volatility of capital.

The prime minister also suggested an information exchange system for the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), lauding Indian business' idea of a NAM Business Portal as a "cheap, effective and comprehensive way" to network among countries.

He said one, or a network of such websites, could even supplant the idea of a NAM Secretariat that has been mooted by many members. India has opposed the secretariat proposal, saying it could lead to "intractable questions" on its location, expenditure and leadership.

Vajpayee was one of the four speakers chosen to speak at the Business Forum, the others being the prime ministers of South Africa, Indonesia and Thailand besides the host prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad.

A delegation of 50-odd Indian businessmen and industrialists is here to attend the forum, which has among its sponsors the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). The CII has also opened an office in Kuala Lumpur.

Saying that the NAM's political agenda had changed with the end of the Cold War, Vajpayee called for a strong developmental agenda for NAM as part of its remaking and revitalization that was being envisaged by the 116-nation movement.

The two-day NAM summit begins here Monday.

Vajpayee paid fulsome tributes to Mahathir, saying he had scripted for Malaysia, based on the virtues of private enterprise and competition, an economic success story.

He said the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) had demonstrated with "striking results" the benefits of regional economic cooperation and, with an obvious allusion to Pakistan, said "economic cooperation has to be depoliticised and made immune to bilateral issues".

India refused to attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Islamabad this year, saying Pakistan was dragging its feet on regional economic cooperation and subordinating it to bilateral political issues.

Making a strong case for international levy on negative capital transfers that have set off economic crises in several developing countries, Vajpayee said a token tax of a quarter percent could generate annual revenues of nearly $300 million.

"If this were to form the corpus of a Global Poverty Alleviation Fund, we can make dramatic progress towards the objectives which we outlined at the Millennium Development Summit and the World Food Summit," Vajpayee declared.

Vajpayee said NAM's peace dividend lay in its adopting development as its agenda, based on partnership between government and industry, better linkages between member nations and with the developed world for faster economic growth that would in turn ensure a better quality of life.

"That is the long-term peace dividend all of us should strive for," the prime minister concluded.
Source: IANS

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