17 February 2004, The Hindu

JAIPUR, FEB 17: The British High Commissioner to India, Michael Arthur, has said the World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations should seek to protect the interest of developing countries and promote foreign direct investments in accordance with their needs.

Delivering a public lecture on WTO here on Monday, Sir Michael felt that though the political consensus in the talks remained elusive, the flexibility in approach and transparency of policies could lead to a better understanding between the economic powers and developing countries.

The lecture was organised by the Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) and the Harish Chandra Mathur State Institute of Public Administration.

The British envoy touched a number of topics relating to WTO and the future of trade talks as well as their implications for the major players in global economy.

He referred to the controversy about the business process outsourcing while affirming that Britain was not trying to impose protectionist measures to stop outsourcing, even though a large number of British workers were being rendered unemployed by it. About 75 percent of workers rendered unemployed find re-employment within six months”, he said.

Pointing to the Indo-British trade relations, Sir Michael said Britain was the third largest investor, after the U.S. and Malaysia, in India. The trade between the two countries was currently of the order of 10 billion dollars, he added.

The noted economist and Member of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, V.S. Vyas, said the perceived lack of reciprocity by the developed countries in the speed of liberalisation called for measures in the WTO to check the misuse of its policies.

The former Indian Ambassador to BATT, B.K. Zutshi, said though the manufacturers would look to the Government for their protection, there was no scope for slowing down the process of globalisation in the country.