India urges world to resume trade talks

PM Manmohan Singh

India has urged US President Barak Obama and leaders of agencies like the WTO to urgently resume multilateral trade liberalisation talks in order to limit protectionism and to prevent global trade and investment from sinking further.

The Indian suggestion from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was put across to world leaders at a global economic dialogue in Phnom Penh on the sidelines of the East Asia summit on Tuesday, which was attended by President Obama, WTO Director General Pascal Lamy, IMF MD Christine Lagarde.

India's commerce and Industry minister Anand Sharma told reporters that there is an urgent need for course correction in the global economy, which if not made, could lead to huge social costs. India wants an early completion of the Doha round of trade negotiations, the longest round of trade talks under WTO yet that reached nowhere.

"We should reenergize and revitalise the stalled WTO process. India feels protectionism or not completing the WTO process will cause further damage to the world economy. It would deepen the recession and delay the recovery," he said.

New Delhi believes that with Obama re-elected for the second term and a new leadership in place in Beijing, it may be an opportune time to resume talks. Discussions had faltered due to what India considers as lack of adequate engagement by the US. Washington has been under intense pressure from its people and policy makers to protect its domestic jobs from being outsourced to low-cost economies like India and China as its economy struggled with prolonged economic woes.

"We hope that the US will now re-engage," said Sharma.

India has also expressed its desire for a peaceful resolution of the multiple disputes China has with others in the South China sea as per international law to ensure freedom of navigation, sources said.

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