Rise of Indian economy 'worries' Bush
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Rise of Indian economy 'worries' Bush

Bush said US needs to strengthen its competitiveness in the global economy.

india Updated: Feb 01, 2006 13:24 IST

The US must retain its leadership not just as a policeman of the world and for spreading democracy but also hold on to its competitive edge against economies like India and China, President George W Bush has said in his annual State of the Union address.

He criticised the rise of protectionist elements in American business and politics and said the economy must remain open and workers be retrained so that the country could compete confidently rather than close its borders to goods from other parts of the world.

In a speech late on Tuesday that surprisingly contained substance appealing to both sides of the aisle in Congress, Bush declared that the American economy was pre-eminent, "but we cannot afford to be complacent".

"In a dynamic world economy, we are seeing new competitors like China and India. This creates uncertainty, which makes it easier to feed people's fears," he said.

"And so we are seeing some old temptations return. Protectionists want to escape competition, pretending that we can keep our high standard of living while walling off our economy," he exhorted.

Bush adhered to the Republican ethic of small government at least in his speech though not in the deeds of the last few years that have seen government expanding its role even as traditional Republicans have writhed against it.

He also lashed out at jingoistic anti-immigration sentiments that have surfaced as issues of outsourcing to countries like India and China have become national issues.

"We hear claims that immigrants are somehow bad for the economy - even though this economy could not function without them," said Bush and warned that all these moves towards protectionism and against immigration were "forms of economic retreat, and they lead in the same direction - toward a stagnant and second-rate economy."

In a rousing speech rallying citizens to believe in an America that "competes with confidence" and intends to shape the economic future, the president argued he had managed to put more money in the pockets of people rather than in the hands of the government.

"Keeping America competitive requires us to open more markets for all that Americans make and grow. One out of every five factory jobs in America is related to global trade and we want people everywhere to buy American. With open markets and a level playing field, no one can out-produce or out-compete the American worker," contended Bush.

Apart from the other measures he outlined to build a thriving global economy, Bush also touched on recent fears that the US was losing its high level of human talent and creativity.

He declared plans to encourage more school children to take math and science and teachers to teach these, as the US finds itself behind many other countries in these subjects.

"Tonight I announce the American Competitiveness Initiative, to encourage innovation throughout our economy, and to give our Nation's children a firm grounding in math and science," he said.

To naysayers he said, despite challenges "... we must never give in to the belief that America is in decline, or that our culture is doomed to unravel. The American people know better than that. We have proven the pessimists wrong before - and we will do it again."

First Published: Feb 01, 2006 11:11 IST