Straw Says Companies Free To Outsource

New Delhi, Feb 6: | Updated: Feb 7 2004, 05:30am hrs
British secretary of state in the foreign and Commonwealth office Jack Straw has assured that there is no move in his country to curb outsourcing to India. Mr Straw indicated this at a meeting with commerce & industry minister Arun Jaitley here on Friday.

Encouraged by Mr Straws statement, Mr Jaitley said in his meeting with the Aspen Group from the US on Thursday, he had pointed out that moves in this regard in the US were of protectionist nature and went against the spirit of free trade that was being pursued under aegis of the world trade body.

Discussing multilateral trade issues, Mr Jaitley briefed Mr Straw about New Delhis position on the ongoing trade negotiations, an official release said. The minister added that New Delhi appreciated Londons support on its position on key issues dogging the World Trade Organisation.

On opening up of the agriculture sector, Mr Jaitley said New Delhi and other members of the G-20 alliance had concerns over the issue of huge subsidies that the developed nations extend to their farmers. Stressing on the sensitivities New Delhi had in the area of market access, Mr Jaitley said one tariff line could affect a few million people. We cannot open our doors straightaway in agriculture, like in manufacturing and services. Here our flexibilities are limited. If our defensive interest is accommodated, we want the negotiations to go on, Jaitley told the British dignitary.

Mr Straw spoke of the possibilities for enhanced bilateral trade and economic cooperation between the two nations. He raised the issue of high level of tariffs on beverages and spirits. Mr Jaitley informed him that tariffs were being brought down and the hotel industry was allowed to import spirits duty-free.

Mr Straw also urged that the legal services sector should be opened as it could be mutually beneficial for both countries.

Britain is the second largest trading partner of the country and the largest in the European Union. Bilateral trade exceeded $5 billion during the past financial year.