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Home > Business > Business Headline > Report

West must not practice protectionism: Hewitt

Onkar Singh in New Delhi | January 07, 2003 17:08 IST

Patricia Hewitt, the British Secretary of Trade and Industry, has said that the developed countries cannot expect free trade from other nations, while at the same time offering protection to its business and agricultural sectors.

Speaking at a function held by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industries in New Delhi, she said that the high tariff rates on import of certain items by all countries to protect their own business interests are harming globalisation of free trade.

"We in the West have a long way to go. The European Union must open its markets and allow Indian products such as roses and mushrooms; it must also reduce agricultural subsidies and move away from flooding developing markets with cheap imports such as milk powder. In short, we cannot preach free trade and practice protectionism. It is wrong that the EU spends $2 a day on every dairy cow when a billion adults and children struggle to survive on half of that cost," she said.

She said that by halving protectionist barriers world trade can grow by $150 billion a year, 'three times the amount currently given in aid to those very countries.'

She regretted that over 40 per cent of the Indian agricultural produce goes waste before it reaches the market. She offered the expertise of British specialists to help reduce this wastage.

She lauded the contribution by the Indian businessmen in the British economy and named Karan Bilimoria of Cobra Beer and Raj Loomba who has a successful clothing business in London.

She said that Nasser Hussain, captain of the English cricket team, was another contribution of the British-Indian relationship.

She did not miss the opportunity to mention how the Indian cell phone industry has been making big strides in the telecommunications sector, when the cell phone of a businessman attending the function suddenly rang.

"I have noticed the strides that you have made in the cell phone sector," she said amidst laughter.

A C Muthiah, president of FICCI, in his welcome speech mentioned that FICCI was holding the biggest get together of the Non-Resident Indians later this week in New Delhi and amongst those who would be participating from Britain, included eminent names like V S Naipaul, Amartya Sen, Lord Navnit Dholakia, Lord Bagri, Lord Amir Ramchand Bhatia, Lord Bhiku Parekh, and Lord Swraj Paul.

"The United Kingdom continues to be the most favoured destination for attracting Indian investments. This is reflected in the fact that, in 2001-2002, India -- with 17 new businesses established in the UK -- held its ground as an important investor into Britain. India also views the UK as its strategic gateway to the European market. Over the last three years nearly 40 per cent of Indian overseas investment has been into Europe. Of course, at least 60 per cent of this was in UK," she said.

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