Manmohan warns world against trade barriers

“We should not allow the global economic slowdown to become a trigger for building walls around ourselves through protectionism or erecting barriers to movement of people, services and capital,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told the United Nations General Assembly. He said a fast growing India could “expand the boundaries for the global economy.”

He argued that effective ways and means must be deployed to promote coordination of macro-economic policies of major economies. The Prime Minister made the remark in the background of India seeking early resolution to the problems being faced by its Information Technology industry over H1B visas in the US.

Commerce Minister Anand Sharma on Friday told an India-US CEOs’ forum in Washington that the uptake of the H1B visas this year had been less than half of the annual prescribed limits and the rejection rates had gone up.

Addressing the UNGA at a time when the world economy found itself in growing trouble, the Prime Minister said the shoots of recovery visible after the economic and financial crisis of 2008 were yet to blossom and, in many respects, the crisis has deepened even further.

Noting that the traditional engines of the global economy like US, Europe and Japan, which had also the sources of economic and financial stability, are now faced with continued economic slowdown and recessionary trends in those countries were affecting confidence in world financial and capital markets.

“These developments are bound to have a negative impact on developing countries which also have to bear the additional burden of inflationary pressures,” he said.

The Prime Minister’s comments came in the backdrop of India, despite registering an economic growth rate close to eight per cent, battling a near double-digit inflation, which has been exasperated by a sharp fall in rupee value, pushing up the landed cost of commodity imports, including the crude oil. Singh said that growing energy and food prices were introducing instability, especially for the developing countries.

New Delhi, Tehran bid for warmer ties

With India keen to repair its strained ties with Iran, the two countries have agreed to finalise dates of a long-pending visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Tehran and to regularly exchange views on the emerging situation in Afghanistan. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad renewed his invitation to Singh for a visit to Tehran, when the two leaders had a bilateral meeting at the UN headquarters in New York on Friday.

“The two leaders agreed that the countries in the region should continue to regularly exchange views on the situation in Afghanistan,” Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai told journalists after the meeting between Singh and Ahmadinejad.

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