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Keynote Speech by Ambassador Anil Wadhwa on
"Preparing for the Next Big Things"
At 'Global Business Dialogue 2012: In Pursuit of Competitiveness'
Organized by Thailand Management Association (TMA)
On 27 November 2012
at the Grand Ballroom, Intercontinental Hotel, Bangkok

Vice Chairman of Thailand Management Association Mr. Charamporn Jotikasatira,

Distinguished Participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen
       It gives me great pleasure to be here today for the 'Global Business Dialogue 2012: In Pursuit of Competitiveness' with the prestigious Thailand Management Association (TMA). I thank the Chairman of the Association Mr. Tevin Vongvanich for inviting me to deliver the keynote speech on this important subject at this business dialogue on the changes and challenges of the global business landscape. I will talk broadly on major global issues and India's views on them, India and ASEAN partnership and its future and India's foreign policy priorities.

Is the 21st Century an Asian Century?

2. Asia's robust economic performance over the three decades preceding 2010, compared to that in the rest of the world, made perhaps the strongest case yet for the possibility of an Asian Century. At four billion people in the beginning of the 21st century, the Asian population is predicted to grow to more than five billion by 2050. The re-emergence of India, China and the Southeast Asian countries could lead towards an Asian 21st century.

3. A 2011 study by the Asian Development Bank (A report by ADB in August 2011 on Asia 2050: Realizing the Asian Century) forecast that Asia's per capita income could raise six fold in purchasing power parity terms to reach Europe's levels by 2050. It stated: "By nearly doubling its share of global gross domestic product (GDP) to 52 percent by 2050, Asia would regain the dominant economic position it held some 300 years ago, before the industrial revolution. The notion of the Asian Century assumes that Asian economies can maintain their momentum for another 40 years, adapt to shifting global economic and technological environment, and continually recreate comparative advantages. In the same study, the ADB estimates that seven economies would lead Asia's powerhouse growth; under the Asian Century scenario, the region would have no poor countries, compared with eight in 2011.

4. To achieve this, Asian leaders will have to manage multiple risks and challenges such as growing inequality within countries, to make necessary investments in infrastructure, education and intense competition for finite natural resources, such as land, water, fuel or food and ensuring good governance.

Global issues

5. Non-traditional security threats such as terrorism, piracy, illegal drug and arms trafficking, cyber security and the growing challenge of pursuing ecologically sustainable development while ensuring energy, water and food security continue to pose serious challenges to peace and security globally. India would like to see the emergence of an open, balanced, inclusive architecture that promotes peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific Region. India firmly believe that different multi-lateral processes, including various regional forums dealing with these cross-cutting and trans-national challenges, should consolidate international efforts to address these threats.

Terrorism

6. Terrorism remains a grave threat that must be addressed by all States through a comprehensive global approach and strengthened commitment to combat it in all its forms anywhere. The global regime against terrorism needs to be hinged on a holistic framework for which the Comprehensive Conventional on International Terrorism at the United Nations requires early conclusion. India had, therefore, tabled the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) at the United Nations. India is engaged in international efforts to combat terrorism, including through the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy 2006, the International Convention for the Suppression of Financing of Terrorism, and the Global Counter-terrorism Forum.

Maritime Security

7. In the present era of interdependence, the security and economic prosperity of nations is vitally linked to safety and security of sea lanes of communication. Maritime security is important for growing economies, particularly in Asia. Despite international efforts, the threat of piracy continues to grow and has reached closer to our shores. India is working with others to foster an environment of shared acceptance of the principles of freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful commerce, peaceful resolution of maritime disputes, and access to resources, in accordance with international law. A durable order in the region requires not only the participation of, but also enduring commitment, from all countries.

Global Economic Situation

8. In spite of spirited efforts, the global economic situation remains one of deep concern. The continuance of economic vulnerabilities and new and emerging challenges with intertwined complexities of globalization demands an urgent reform of the structures of global governance. It is imperative that developing countries are given due voice and participation in the decision making structures of the global economic and financial institutions, especially the Bretton Woods Institutions.

9. An expansion of investment in infrastructure in developing countries is only possible if they can get access to long term capital to finance such investment. This is difficult at a time when capital flows are disrupted. The Multilateral Development Banks can play a major role in this context. We now need to take steps to substantially expand the resource base of Multilateral Development Banks so that they have the firepower to help developing countries pursue their development goals. In June 2012 at G-20 Summit in Mexico, our Prime Minister stated that the G-20 Framework Working Group and the Financial Stability Board could examine how to enhance investment in infrastructure through country commitments and incentives in the regulatory framework.

10. India, too, is creating an environment that would boost investor sentiment and promote an atmosphere conducive to enterprise and creativity. We are focusing heavily on infrastructure investment and in this context we have set ambitious targets to keep infrastructure investment on track and also put in place a problem resolution mechanism to overcome implementation bottlenecks.

Climate Change

11.Climate Change remains one of the most pressing challenges of our time. Our continued efforts to address Climate Change must remain rooted in the basic principles of 'equity' and 'common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities'. India looks forward to a comprehensive and balanced outcome of the forthcoming COP-18 at Doha, Qatar in end November. A meaningful and effective 2nd commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol must be the single biggest measure of success at Doha. Equally critical to the success of Doha is that we must have decisions on the outstanding issues of the Bali Action Plan and we must find a way to address issues that we are not able to conclude.

Food and Energy Security

12. The issues of food and energy security will impact critically on the development stories of many nations, particularly in Asia. India supports a participatory model to look at cooperation on diversification of energy sources, stability of energy supplies, security of energy transportation and creation of new energy infrastructure and its protection. India would recommend that energy cooperation among Asia which has some of the world's largest energy consuming countries with very heavy reliance on energy imports include sharing of best energy practices and promoting greater dialogue between energy exporter and energy consumer countries. This dialogue should also facilitate the promotion of renewable energy, development of energy saving industries, energy efficiency and clean energy technologies. We also need to explore newer models for financing of energy infrastructure. For us and for much of Asia, energy security is not merely "economic growth” but more an issue of basic needs of sustenance and poverty eradication.

13. The developing world is rich in renewable sources of energy like solar power. Adoption of these technologies will also enable us to contribute to preservation of the environment. We can learn from each other in this effort. Similarly, food security is a basic problem for many of our countries. Excessive speculation, structural bottlenecks and lack of coordination are fuelling food inflation at the global level. We need to push for effective food policy coordination and cooperation at the global level in areas such as agricultural productivity, weather forecasting and research and development. India had the fastest expansion rate for investment of any large renewable markets in the world in 2011, with 62% increase to US$ 12 billion.

Doha Development Round

14. The Doha Development Round, the trade-negotiation round of the World Trade Organization which was commenced in November 2001 with objective to lower trade barriers around the world to facilitate the increase of global trade have stalled over a divide on major issues, such as agriculture, industrial tariffs and non-tariff barriers, services, and trade remedies. The most significant differences are between developed nations led by the European Union, the United States and Japan and the major developing countries led and represented mainly by India, Brazil, China, South Korea, and South Africa. A report to the WTO General Council in May 2012 advocated "small steps, gradually moving forward the parts of the Doha Round which were mature, and re-thinking those where greater differences remained."

Sustainable Development

15. Economic development, social inclusion and environmental sustainability are all equally critical as components of sustainable development. The task before us is to give practical shape and content to this architecture in a manner that allows each country to develop according to its own national priorities and circumstances. For developing countries, inclusive growth and a rapid increase in per capita income levels are development imperatives. The Rio Summit correctly acknowledged that poverty eradication must remain the over-riding priority for developing countries. Those living at the subsistence level cannot bear the costs of adjustment and their livelihood considerations are important in determining how scarce natural resources such as land, water and forests are used. The severe deterioration of land and water resources is already affecting the well- being of millions of people living on the edges of subsistence, particularly women and children.

16. Sustainable development also mandates the efficient use of available natural resources. A key area of focus is energy. We have to promote, universal access to energy, while, at the same time, promoting energy efficiency and a shift to cleaner energy sources by addressing various technological, financial and institutional constraints. In India, we are implementing an ambitious National Solar Mission as a critical option for our energy security. Environmental sustainability is the third leg of the sustainable development architecture. Economic activity invariably results in negative spinoffs, either by way of local pollution, or by way of global effects such as Greenhouse Gas emissions. We need to tackle both.

17. Since the World Social Summit of 1995, progress has been recorded in all the three major pillars of Social Development, namely eradication of poverty, promotion of full employment and decent work and social integration. However, many challenges remain to be overcome in all three areas. Many countries have reduced income poverty, but they continue to face significant challenges in ensuring access to education, food and other basic goods and services. The continuing grim global economic situation has further undermined the limited capacity of developing countries to cope with shocks and vulnerabilities in the global economic system.

18. With over a billion people in extreme poverty and hunger, we cannot afford but to make inclusive growth our priority. More practical efforts are required to address the domestic financing gaps faced by many developing countries. They need to effectively mobilize domestic resources including, inter alia, through prudent management of natural resources, governance reforms, more effective taxation policies and strengthening financial inclusion. In India, achieving inclusive growth underpinned by empowerment of people, especially women, good governance, and investments in social sectors, education and health, skills training, affordable housing, are a major focus. Since 65% of India's population is located in rural areas, special emphasis has been placed on rural development initiatives. Government of India has issued more than 220 million Unique Identification Numbers called Aadhaar to residents of India. The primary objective of the UID is to ensure inclusive growth by providing a form of identity to those who do not have any identity. It seeks to provide UID numbers to the marginalized sections of society and thus would strengthen equity. Apart from providing identity, the UID will enable better delivery of services and effective governance.

19. The key outcomes from the RIO+20 Summit on Sustainable Development Goals, Financing Strategy, Technology Mechanism, Strengthening of UNEP and the High level Political Forum need to be pursued as agreed at Rio and implemented in a time bound manner. Achievement of these millennium development aspirations must receive our highest priority and not slip even as we start working on the post-2015 development agenda. The post-2015 development agenda must remain anchored in the Rio principles, in particular common but differentiated responsibilities and equity.

Knowledge Economy

20. Perhaps most relevant for us is to focus on investing in the knowledge economy and building our human resources. When faced with our unique developmental challenges, our youth have the creativity and energy to find solutions that are innovative, frugal and affordable. However, we need to provide them skills and equip them to find productive employment in a rapidly changing and inter-connected global economy.

21. Various observers describe today's global economy as one in transition to a "knowledge economy," as an extension of an "information society." The transition requires that the rules and practices that determined success in the industrial economy need rewriting in an interconnected, globalized economy where knowledge resources such as know-how and expertise are as critical as other economic resources. According to analysts of the "knowledge economy," these rules need to be rewritten at the levels of firms and industries in terms of knowledge management and at the level of public policy as knowledge policy or knowledge-related policy. For developing countries to fruitfully integrate ICTs and sustainable development in order to participate in the knowledge economy they need to intervene collectively and strategically. Such collective intervention suggested would be in the development of effective national ICT policies that support the new regulatory framework, promote the selected knowledge production, and use of ICTs and harness their organizational changes to be in line with Millennium Development Goals.

ASEAN

22. This is a time of challenges in the region, but also of immense opportunities to shape its future. We support the objectives of an ASEAN Community by 2015, the Initiative for ASEAN Integration and the ASEAN Master Plan on Connectivity. ASEAN's leadership in fostering cooperation and building better understanding in the larger Asia Pacific community is admirable. We believe that ASEAN centrality is essential in the evolving regional architecture for peace, stability, development and prosperity. We would like to compliment ASEAN members, not only for their progress in creating an integrated ASEAN community and ASEAN Economic Community, but for their leadership in launching wider regional initiatives such as the ARF, EAS and the ADMM+.

Connectivity

23. Connectivity is vital for increased commerce, contact and cooperation between our countries. Connectivity with ASEAN in all its dimensions - physical, institutional and people-to-people - continues to be a strategic priority for India. Two major Commemorative events this year - the India-ASEAN Car Rally and the ASEAN sailing expedition of the Indian Naval Ship Sudarshini - highlight the importance and the potential for connecting India and ASEAN by sea, surface and air links. Improved connectivity between India and ASEAN will be vital for deepening our economic integration as well as our strategic partnership.

24. The India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway Task Force met in New Delhi and resolved to establish connectivity from Moreh in India to Mae Sot in Thailand by 2016. These are welcome steps in implementing the vision of India-ASEAN connectivity. Early identification of specific projects and the evolution of innovative financing mechanisms for their implementation would help move forward this important aspect of our cooperation.

25. A large number of ASEAN students, Senior Editors, diplomats and farmers are visiting India in December 2012 and will join the ceremonial flag down of the Car Rally in New Delhi. India and ASEAN have signed a unique MoU on Strengthening Tourism Cooperation. Continuing liberalization of our visa regime for ASEAN countries is also inspired by the same desire to connect our people and expand mutually beneficial economic opportunities.

India-ASEAN FTA

26. India's relationship with ASEAN members continues to grow in all dimensions. The conclusion of the India-ASEAN Agreement on Trade in Services and Investments, together with our existing Agreement on Trade in Goods, will be a springboard for rapid expansion in our economic relations. Our trade was nearly 80 billion US $ in the Indian financial year ending March 2012, exceeding our target of 70 billion US $.

27. India's large markets and rapid growth offer enormous opportunities for investments. We are taking a series of steps to further improve investment environment and accelerate growth. We look forward to increased ASEAN investments into India. At the same time, India will offer its own resources, expertise and experience to support growth and development in ASEAN countries, where such needs exist. Indian private sector has increased its presence in the region.

28. Our cooperation is growing rapidly across wide range of sectors and fields. The meetings between India-ASEAN Ministers of Environment, New & Renewable Energy, Tourism, Agriculture and Telecommunications during the year 2012 reflect this growing momentum. We have begun consultations on deepening our linkages in the important sector of medium and small scale industries, which are engines of employment and innovation in our countries. We look forward to a successful India-ASEAN Business Fair in Delhi in December. We attach special importance to our ongoing cooperative programmes in the knowledge and skills sector. Finally, we are making tangible progress on the Plan of Action for Peace, Progress and Shared Prosperity for 2010-15.

India's Foreign Policy

29. India is in an exciting transition. A nation constituting one sixth of humanity is undergoing economic and social transformation on an extraordinary scale. It is taking place in a democratic and federal framework; in the midst of growing political pluralism and social diversity; and, in the context of continuing debate on equity, opportunity and sustainability. Our policies are not only concerned about the growth of the aggregate, but also by the welfare of the individual. It is a complex political and economic challenge. We need to continue with a high growth trajectory and also make it more inclusive. This calls for an innovative, dynamic and sustainable engagement with the world around us.

30. India has been guided since ancient times by the ideals of Vasudhaiva Kuttambakam - the world is one family - and Sarva Dharma Sambhava-all faiths are equal. India has been challenged forces of intolerance, discrimination and violence, but time and again, when they have been tested the most, Indians have spoken as one people and one nation. As a pluralist democracy that stands at the cultural cross-roads of Asia and many of its fault lines, India will serve as a bridge across the region's - and, indeed, the world's - great diversity.

31. India's commitment to internationalism, independence of judgment in the conduct of external relations, support to the democratization of world order, and contributions to the maintenance of international peace and security are enduring legacies of our national movement. India's foreign policy in the 21st century will remain rooted in these core values, but it will continuously adapt to the changing external circumstances and the shifting domestic needs. The foremost priority of India's foreign policy will be to create a favorable external environment for the pursuit of collective prosperity and the individual welfare of all the Indian people. Our interests are firmly anchored in a stable global order and a peaceful neighborhood. We need an open and equitable international trading system; a stable financial system; reliable, affordable and secure energy supplies; and, food security. We will need bilateral as well as international partnerships of technology and innovation to meet the extraordinary scale of our development challenges. In turn, India's own progress will, in its own modest way, affirm the values of democracy and pluralism; contribute to peace and stability; and provide one of the pillars of the global economy.

I wish all the success to this two day business dialogue. Thank you.

*****


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