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Solutions cannot be found behind walls of protection: PM Modi

Singapore: Sending out a strong message against protectionism, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said solutions cannot be found behind walls of protection and asserted that India stands for an open and stable international trade regime.

In his keynote address at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Modi said there was growing protectionism in the goods and services sector.

“Solutions cannot be found behind walls of protection, but in embracing change. What we seek is a level-playing field for all. India stands for open and stable international trade regime,” he said.

India will support a rule-based, open, balanced and stable trade environment in the Indo-Pacific region, which lifts up all nations on the tide of trade and investment, Modi said.

“That is what we expect from Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. RCEP must be comprehensive, as the name suggests, and the principles declared. It must have a balance among trade, investment and services,” the prime minister said.

RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the ten member states of ASEAN nations and the six states with which ASEAN has existing free trade agreements — Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

Modi, in his address, said, “We will promote a democratic and rules-based international order, in which all nations, small and large, thrive as equal and sovereign.”

Modi had also sent out a strong message against protectionism and inward-focused economic policies at the World Economic Forum (WEF) earlier this year in Davos when he had said such tendencies can be as dangerous as terrorism and climate change.

In his address on Friday, Modi also asserted that India would sustain a growth of 7.5 to 8 per cent per year.

“As our economy grows, our global and regional integration will increase. A nation of over 800 million youth knows that their future will be secured not just by the scale of India’s economy, but also by the depth of global engagement,” he added.