Arun Jaitley cautions against rising trend of protectionism

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Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today sounded a note of caution on protectionism, saying the world should debate whether it would make the global economy more efficient or sluggish.

Arun JaitleyThe minister, however, took comfort from the fact that voices of protectionism are not heard in India.

“…You suddenly found a contrarian trend now moving in the developed economies itself. The reasons would be different in each economy and the trend really is can we reverse this whole process. And that’s a little worry which does exist,” Jaitley said while referring to the growing voices of protectionism especially in the United States.

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Increasing protectionism in the US like tightening of visa regime and insistence on using American products may adversely impact global trade and investments.

“In the US, a question has already arisen that whether US corporations would be compelled to buy products, which are costlier. Whether they would be compelled to hire professionals or engage services which are relatively costlier.

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“What would then be the plight of the economy? will it be more efficient or will it be more sluggish? I am sure that this debate will continue in each of the countries where debate on protectionism has begun,” he said at the CII annual session here.

Referring to the developments in the United Kingdom, he said the British leadership is insisting that Brexit should not be construed as any form of protectionism and instead they want to engage more with European Union as well as India.

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India, he said, over the last few years have shown a greater ability to reform and undertook courageous and structural reform.

“We have benefited both from domestic liberalisation and also where we integrated ourselves. Our ability to provide services is certainly unquestioned, it is certainly better than most other economies. Can we improve our ability on manufacturing, that is where we have a lot of distance to cover,” he said.

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