| Vajpayee with Romano Prodi in New Delhi on Saturday. (AFP)
New Delhi, Nov 29: Warning the West against imposing non-tariff barriers, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today said popular support for economic liberalisation will collapse if the developmental concerns of the poorer countries are not addressed.
Addressing the special plenary session of the fourth India-EU business summit, Vajpayee stressed that India would have to take into consideration the livelihood concerns of millions of people while taking decisions on the sensitive issue of opening up farm trade at future global trade talks.
Last night, at a book release function, finance minister Jaswant Singh had also told reporters that he had told EU commissioner Chris Patten that India was not going to give up farm subsidies as part of any package of opening up its farm trade.
Laying importance on the recently held talks in Mexico, the Prime Minister said, “The WTO is a chariot pulled by many horses. Unless each horse pulls at the same pace and in the same direction as others, the chariot will eventually collapse. It is important not to upset the carefully balanced agenda of interests that resulted from hard fought negotiations and compromises at Doha.”
Saying that a range of issues from anti-dumping measures to manufacturing standards need to be looked at with a sense of proportion, Vajpayee said, “We need to look carefully at the unfortunate reality that non-tariff barriers are gradually rising, even as tariffs are falling in response to globalisation.”
He added, “In India, we have been careful to ensure that our liberalisation measures are non-directional. We do not increase tariffs or raise barriers to target any group of countries.”
Expressing concern on the much debated issue of business process outsourcing (BPO) into India, Vajpayee said the emotive argument about the migration of jobs to countries like India have missed two basic points.
He said the failure to allow free movement of persons will lead to outsourcing. “If there is a more liberal regime of free movement of businessmen and professionals between India and Europe, this demand can be within your countries. If people cannot go where business is, business will eventually come to where people are.”
“The demographic profile of Europe and America necessarily means that these countries will need the induction of a younger work force from outside in the coming decades,” he added.