A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the dangers of rising protectionist sentiments, commerce and industry minister Suresh Prabhu said that India was committed to a global trade system which is rule-based, transparent and participative.
Prabhu, who was here to attend meetings of the World Economic Forum (WEF), said that India’s stance on this is clear. What India wants is for the World Trade Organization (WTO) to be the new growth engine of the global economy. Global growth, which had contracted earlier, is now growing and WTO has to be the engine for that growth. “If we have a good trade platform, why should there be trade wars,” he said referring to the signals from the US, where President Donald Trump has attacked the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and other trade agreements. US trade minister Wilbur Ross said on Wednesday at the WEF that trade wars are fought every single day and, without naming any country, said that some parties were violating rules and taking advantage.
According to Prabhu, the idea of WTO itself is an insurance against a trade war. WTO provides a buffer against conflict and that it was nobody’s argument that the Geneva-based institution should be disbanded. The message from different parts of the world is that there is a need for a multilateral system. “If the US President goes to the World Economic Forum, can it be against multilateralism. “.. Many wars were fought in the past because of trade but now the scenario has changed with a recognition that trade can in fact prevent wars.
India on its part is now working on getting all the major stakeholders to come together — with a mini — ministerial of the WTO being planned in the last week of March.
The structural changes which have been carried out by the government could lead to dramatic changes next year and help power the economy, he said. It would also provide enough elbow room for boosting trade and with an upturn in global trade, India stands to benefit, he said. India’s exports grew 5.72 per cent in December and in the April-December 2017 period rose to $198.8 billion. The government has already announced a series of steps to promote exports after a mid-term review of the foreign trade policy. The government is hoping to double the country’s exports to $900 billion by 2019-20, which many consider to be a tough challenge.
Earlier today, the minister had a meeting with CEOs and bankers.