India and China today criticised US President Donald Trump’s protectionist measures and anti-immigration policies as the two neighbours sought common ground to push for globalisation and better trade ties. During his election campaign and after becoming president, Trump has made some sweeping changes to US trade and immigration policies and threatened to impose steep tariffs on imports and proposed hefty tax cuts. “We have to work to make sure that the protectionist tendencies are pushed back, that the trading multilateral order presided over by WTO begins to regain its strength and robustness as it did in the past,” NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar said here, addressing the third annual dialogue meeting between the top planning bodies of the two countries. Any attempt to replace that multilateral development and economic order by bilateral and regional formations will not be good for the emerging economies of the world, he said. In his address, Kumar also spoke against protectionist measures to reverse globalisation and sharply criticised the tax cuts being brought about the Trump administration. “There has been major news coming from United States. The tax reductions in the US, raising the threshold of income tax, abolition of inheritance tax,” said Li Wei, President of China’s Development Research Centre (DRC).
Li said the US withdrew from the immigration agreement of the UN and the American Supreme Court has passed the Trump administration’s bill to restrict immigrants travelling from six mostly Muslim countries. “So these policies of the US are going to impact the rest of the world. Given the sheer size of the US, its fiscal and monitory policy will have an impact on us,” he said. “Growing inequality is the worst condition for maintaining peace and stability in the world. You have to have greater convergence in the world. Greater convergence implies that countries like India and China accelerate their economic growth and follow the trajectory which China has achieved,” Kumar said.
The current changes and tax reform or moves to curtail immigration by the Trump administration have the danger of further exacerbating inequality, Kumar said, replying to critical remarks by Li. “India and China must work together in environment and climate change, they must work together to ensure that the liberal multilateral trading and economic order remains in place and protectionism is pushed back whether it is in the US or Europe or anywhere else,” the top NITI Aayog official said. Li said though the world economy is recovering, circumstances and situations are not rosy. In the long run such a recovery is coming in the backdrop of large scale stimulus policies and multitude of short term measures.
In an apparent reference to the US, Li said “some important major countries” adopted quite a number of protectionist measures to intervene in international trade and investment. According to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), member countries adopted 3,051 trade restrictive measures from October, 2008 to May, 2017, he said. Protectionism is going to be counterproductive. This year the growth rate of international trade continues to be below the growth rate of the world economy, he said.
This is going to be the sixth consecutive year that international trade growth is lower than the world economy, Li said. Criticising negative outlook towards globalisation, he said developed countries should shun populist measures. “Overall globalisation is in the interest of mutual benefits and a win-win situation. It is also in the interest of world economic growth,” he said and called for India-China cooperation to improve global governance as they are members in important bodies like the G-20, BRICS, WTO and, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).