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Former Spain PM prescribes 4-fold approach to lift world economy
Sep '08
Mr. Jose Maria Aznar, former Prime Minister of Spain held out a four-fold prescription to lift the world economy out of its present depths of despair, remove financial uncertainties and boost international trade.

In a special address to representatives of industry and trade on 'Restructuring of the Global Architecture' organised by FICCI here today, Mr. Aznar said, “The success of the multilateral negotiations of the Doha Round is more important than ever before and it upsets me greatly to see that a great part of the political class in Europe and the US remains anchored to protectionist positions, something which is not what development and the fight against poverty demand.”

Mr. Aznar attributed this approach to the lack of political leadership and shortage of vision, which leads to impose sectarian and particular interests in the way of general interests. “Europe and the US harm themselves with such short-sighted policies,” he declared.

The onus of the stalled Doha Round also rests with the leaders of some of the developing countries, he said, adding “these leaders are unfortunately only interested in the Doha Development Round to continue failing, jeopardising the welfare of their weakest citizens”.

He said, “short-sighted arguments, such as short-term loss of revenues which they try to recover by raising tariffs, and sometimes dark interests, like the fear from China or India which pose potential threats to their national infant industries, continue to block an agreement”.

While acknowledging that the multilateral channel has to be a priority in advancing free trade, he called for pragmatism and promote bilateral and regional trade agreements. “It is true that this would generate trade diversion, but in general, the benefits exceed the downsides,” he said.

Mr. Aznar said, both India and the European Union could profit greatly from a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which should be accelerated. “The same would apply to a FTA between India and the United States. India could advance in the liberalization of bilateral trade with many other countries and then consolidate the agreements at the WTO level once the Doha Round succeeds,” he said.

Responsible politicians, he should, should guarantee institutional stability. The Government should safeguard private ownership, the respect of due process and justice, and the enforcement of the rule of law, the former Spanish PM pointed out.

Institutional stability and freedom can be regarded as the largest economic challenges of the developing world. In this context, he suggested that the IMF should change its nature and become a promoter of good and sensible policies, but without a direct link to financial aid, as it has today.

He said, the enemies of freedom have already begun to blame capitalism and market economy as the causes of the financial crisis we are facing since August 2007 this crisis. “This assessment is absolutely groundless at best. The financial system is an industry deeply regulated by the Government. The problem has to do with bad regulation,” Mr Aznar said.

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