Hitting out at unilateralism and trade protectionism, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday underscored the need for a rules-based, anti-discriminatory and all inclusive WTO-centred multilateral trading system.
Addressing the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Bishkek, Modi said that unilateralism and protectionism has not benefited anyone. “Economic cooperation is the basis of our people’s future…We need a rule-based, transparent, anti-discriminatory, open and all-inclusive WTO-centred multilateral trading system focused so that the interests of every countries especially the developing ones can be taken care of,” he said.
His remarks come days after US President Donald Trump terminated India’s benefits under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) scheme and amid a raging trade war between the US and China.
With Chinese President Xi Jinping looking on, Modi said that India is committed to fostering a favourable environment for economic cooperation between SCO member countries. Xi said India and China should uphold free trade, and multilateralism, without directly referring to Beijing’s opposition to Trump’s protectionist policies and the ongoing China-US trade war.
The SCO member states, including India, said that the situation in global politics and economy remains turbulent and tense, and the process of economic globalisation is being hindered by the growing unilateral protectionist policies and other challenges in international trade, according to the Bishkek Declaration of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s Heads of State Council.
“They believe that unilateral protectionist actions in violation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules and regulations undermine the multilateral trade system and threaten the world economy and trade,” it said.
Earlier, with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan listening in, Modi said that countries responsible for aiding, supporting and funding terror should be held accountable, a day after he told President Xi that Islamabad needs to create an atmosphere “free of terrorism”, which is not visible yet.
Modi made the oblique reference to Pakistan in his statement at the SCO summit, where Khan, too, seized the opportunity to condemn “State-terrorism against people under illegal occupation”, alluding to Jammu and Kashmir. India and other members of the SCO also condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and called on the international community to promote cooperation in combating the menace.
Advocating a “terrorism-free society”, Modi told SCO leaders, including Khan, Xi, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, “During my visit to Sri Lanka last Sunday, I visited St Anthony’s Church, where I witnessed the ugly face of terrorism which claims the lives of innocents anywhere.” The church was among the targets in the Easter Sunday terror attacks that killed 258 people in Sri Lanka. To combat the menace of terrorism, countries will have to come out of their narrow purview to unite against it, Modi said, adding that “countries responsible for aiding, supporting and providing financial assistance to terrorists should be held accountable”.
The Prime Minister also urged SCO leaders to organise a global conference on terrorism — just like he had proposed the conference during his speech at the Maldivian Parliament.
Khan, who spoke after Modi, said, “Growing intolerance and Islamophobia are threatening to accentuate religious fault-lines. For its part, Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including State-terrorism against people under illegal occupation.”
(With inputs from PTI)