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Thursday, Jan 06, 2005

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`India, China should free their markets'

Our Bureau

Chennai , Jan. 5

COUNTRIES such as India and China too have the responsibility to open out their markets, just as much as they expect developed countries to do, according to Sir Digby Jones, Director General, Confederation of British Industry, UK.

Addressing a meeting organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry here today, he said India and China are leaders among developing countries and they owe a responsibility to others to free their markets.

It is not fair on India's part to expect the EU to bring down its tariffs on bulk textiles while it does not let in niche textile goods. UK cannot make volume-based textiles but India does, while Britain makes niche textile products. But these niche products attract duties that effectively mount to 60 per cent.

Both India and Britain can benefit as trade partners. Britain has focussed on value added manufacturing and services but skilled human resource is still a challenge. British businesses come to India for the skill it possesses rather than low cost - there are cheaper destinations in the Far East. Other factors include a business friendly environment and a populist democracy.

These are factors that India needs to nurture. Cost alone cannot be a factor to attract businesses or for that matter value addition. What is value added today is a commodity tomorrow.

Good governance and infrastructure are among the key factors to attract investments. "Politicians should understand that business has choices to go all over the world," he said.

Referring to the tsunami disaster in the region, he said that it was heartening to see countries coming together to help those hit. In the last few years there have been occasions when they have been fragmented. The opportunity for cooperation could also be used to progress.

It would be great to see India and China ratifying the Kyoto protocol for controlling pollution. Rather than saying that US, the biggest polluter is not signing, they should set an example, he said.

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