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Indian Express, October 03, 2011


Even as Indian and Chinese companies are creating jobs in the West, both countries have been the target of protectionism since the economic slowdown has engulfed the Western world. Frank-Jürgen Richter, founder-chairman of Horasis, an independent organisation promoting cooperation between developed and emerging markets, believes that the West should deepen its partnership with emerging economies to secure its own future. In an interview to Ritu Kant Ojha, Richter dwells on the power shift away from the West and the need to wake up to this emergent reality. Excerpts:

How do you see Indias position in institutions like the IMF and the World Bank changing?

India is one of the worlds new engines of growth and her role in geopolitical terms is growing. I could well imagine that an Indian national could become the head of the IMF or the World Bank in the near future. Why should Europe and the US share these roles for ever? The Bretton Woods institutions are the brainchild of the post-World War economic and political order. We need to reform these and other international institutions, moving India and the other BRIC-economies to the fore.

What do you think would be India and Chinas possible position on protectionism in the changing global economic scenario?

India and China are facing protectionism in the Western world. The West has been in the drivers seat for the last 100 years or more and do not want to give up their privileges. Remember what US President Barack Obama said during his election campaign: go to Buffalo, not to Bangalore. This is shortsighted economic reasoning. The Indian outsourcing and the Chinese manufacturing industries are creating jobs in the West. Infosys, TCS and Wipro created large delivery centres in the US and Europe and help Western multinationals to be more efficient.

Is China looking at attaining developed country status? What are the challenges and the Wests attitude towards it?

Yes, China is looking at attaining developed market economy status and they are right in doing so. China is the second largest economy in the world and it is a matter of time before it overtakes the US. Chinese firms such as Huawei and Lenovo are technology leaders and some its car makers are spearheading electric cars. The West does not want to grant market economy status as they fear that China is breaching intellectual property rights. The West would do better to acknowledge China as an equal partner. And it is China that could eventually be Europes lender of last resort, buying its sovereign debt.

How do you see the current slowdown different from the one in 2008? Is India more decoupled than it was then?

In 2008, the world was united. Everybody pulled the same strings. Todays situation is different. The US is blaming Europe (and vice versa). The emerging world is competing with the old powers. In 2008, India and China were lucky of not being exposed to toxic US financial products and their economies managed to decouple. Todays economies are not decoupling any more. India today is a strong exporting power. It would be negatively impacted if Europe and the US would fail to solve their problems. The world seems to be flat, finally.


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