Monday, March 30, 2009

2 days to G20: India still keeps its cards close to its chest

Not that other countries have a position paper ready to dish out, but most of them have their stances clear. Between November 15 when the Washington Declaration was signed and today with the London Summit just 48 hours away, the positions — and the divides — are fairly clear.
The US and the UK stand together on two issues: keeping stimulus high and avoiding over-regulation. It’s a relief that they’ve reversed their insistence on coercing other countries to follow their 2 per cent spending tip, which their very obedient and loyal mouthpiece, the International Monetary Fund, yelped with full gusto.
Continental Europe, led by Germany and France, while rejecting all calls to spend, seek stronger regulation, nationalisation and more control over financial entities.
China, worried about its dollar investments that add up to $1 trillion at last count, is seeking an alternative global currency — an interesting proposal, possibly useful too.
Other emerging countries like Argentina, South Africa and Russia, but not excluding Australia that technically doesn’t fall in the “emerging” club, are largely silent, with the sole exception of the crude (and comic?) comments of Brazilian President Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva, who said ““This crisis was fostered and boosted by irrational behaviour of some people that are white, blue-eyed.”
India has not yet opened its cards. “We were very involved in the preparatory process, that’s why you have this impression,” Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon told reporters at a press briefing.
Unofficially, India’s overarching stance is to fight protectionism. ““We are against protectionism,” Menon said. “We would like to see a very strong statement coming out of G20 against protectionism.”
Earlier, I had spoken to the heads of some of India’s leading industry opinion makers and protectionism was indeed the theme of greatest concern, particularly US President Barack Obama’s comments on outsourcing, buy American and so on.

Blog post on Cutting the Edge

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