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East Asia's economic growth drives India: PM

"Today, the east Asian community has overtaken Europe and US as the largest trading block among our partners."

india Updated: Mar 19, 2006 00:43 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that the spurt in the economic growth of east Asia has driven India's confidence to march ahead with its agenda of economic reforms.

"The success of ASEAN member countries, particularly Korea and China, have all shaped up our thinking," Singh observed in his opening address at the Asia Society's 16th corporate conference in Mumbai on Saturday evening.

In this context, he mentioned India lowering its tariff to bring it at par with the ASEANnations that had helped boost the country economic growth. This, he said, was in consonance with India's 'look east policy' launched in 1992 when he was the Finance Minister.

"Our tariffs have come down but our share of world trade has gone up. There was a time when finance ministers were pilloried for cutting tariffs, today they are praised for doing so," he said.

Today, the east Asian community of nations has overtaken Europe and USA as the largest trading block among our trade partners. "This is Asia's new reality and it is shaping India's new priorities".

However, the Prime Minister was critical about the lack of transparency in the policies of some countries in the world. He expressed concern over nascent protectionism particularly in agriculture and the uneven pursuit of the Doha Round agenda.

Notwithstanding all these, he strongly believed that India would move forward with its global mission to achieve a higher growth of 9-10 per cent from the present level of little over 8 per cent. "We are now ready to face global competition on a level playing field", he asserted.

This could be achieved by linking India into a web of partnerships with the countries in Asia through free trade and economic cooperation which, he added, could also be extended to Australia and New Zealand.

The Pan Asian Free Trade Agreement (FTA) could be the future of Asia and open up new growth avenues for our own country, he added.

First Published: Mar 19, 2006 00:16 IST