Davos 2018: Modi warns against protectionism, in apparent swipe at Donald Trump

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Protectionism is gaining ground and globalisation is losing its appeal, but India is open for business, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the World Economic Forum on Tuesday.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted top three major threats in which he mentioned third challenge is increased self-centeredness around the world. ‘Globalisation around the world is shrinking, everyone talks of an inter-connected world but the shine of globalisation is reducing.’ PM Modi said. ‘We must see if the global organisations created after World War Second reflects the new dynamics of the world today’. Some World powers don’t just want shun globalisation but they want to stall it. An example of this is new tariff barriers.’ PM Modi added.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi mounted a defence of globalisation at the World Economic Forum on Tuesday, urging joint action on climate change and economic cooperation, in a speech some delegates took as a swipe at US President Donald Trump’s America First agenda.

Modi, making the forum’s first speech by an Indian head of government in more than two decades, did not mention Trump by name but he criticised the rise of protectionism in remarks delivered three days before the US President addresses the summit.

His comments on rising trade barriers came ahead of an address to the forum later this week by US President Donald Trump, who has championed inward looking policies for the world’s biggest economy.

“Instead of globalisation, the power of protectionism is putting its head up. Their wish is not only to save themselves from globalisation, but to change the natural flow of globalisation,” Modi said at the opening of the forum, which has attracted 70 heads of state and government, chief executives and top bankers.

“The result of this is that we are seeing new types of tariff and non-tariff-based barriers being imposed. Bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations appear to have come to a halt.

“There is a slowdown in cross-border financial investments and the expansion of (the) global supply chain appears to have slowed down.”

Without directly mentioning Trump or the US, he said “the solution to this worrisome situation against globalization is not isolation.”

Trump has been pushing an “America First” policy of getting businesses to invest in the United States instead of overseas, potentially affecting the growth prospects of emerging economies such as India dependent on foreign investment.

In his speech delivered in Hindi, Modi emphasised that a predictable, stable, transparent and progressive India is good news in an otherwise uncertain global environment.

Pitching India as an investment destination, Modi said the government is following the principle of reform, perform and transform.

“We have made it so easier to invest in India, manufacture in India and work in India. We have decided to uproot licence and permit Raj. We are replacing red tape with red carpet,” he added.

Referring to WEF’s theme of ‘Creating a shared future in a fractured world’, he said the Indian philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (the world is one family) has become more relevant today to address global fissures.

Modi said climate change was a major threat to the world, yet the world had failed to come together to tackle it. He said everyone wanted carbon emissions to be cut, but the rich world was not ready to help developing economies with new technology.

Modi also highlighed terrorism as a “serious” global challenge. While terrorism is dangerous what is equally dangerous is the “artificial distinction” made between ‘good terrorist’ and ‘bad terrorist’, said the prime minister.

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