Anand Sharma bats for open markets

Mumbai, Feb 13 (IANS) Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma Wednesday urged developed countries to remain committed to open markets as protectionism delays recovery and deepens recession.

Arguing the case for freer and more open markets which permit easier movements of professionals, Sharma said that historically, when countries confronted recessionary trends, they tend to "look inwards".

"This is not the right approach. On the contrary, protectionism becomes counter-productive, delaying recovery and deepening recession," he pointed out.

Sharma was addressing the NASSCOM India Leadership Forum at which delegates from 34 countries will discuss the theme "Imagineering the Future: Disruptive Innovation for Sensible Growth".

Quoting a study of Tuck School of Business, Sharma said that empirical evidence suggested that for every job outsourced to India, nearly two new jobs were generated in the US.

"Just as America has off-shored some of its work to India, Indian companies are outsourcing activities to American companies, including software development," Sharma said.

He said that Indian software professionals add to competitive strengths of various economies of the world, improving efficiencies and driving the process of change.

"Erecting artificial barriers will only end up hurting economies and not supporting the cause of the domestic industry," the minister said.

Lauding the Indian IT industry, Sharma said it has been at the heart of the technology revolution in India and has been the single-most enabling factor in powering India's economic growth.

Reiterating the government's support for the IT and ITES sectors, Sharma expressed optimism that it would contribute US $175 billion by 2020 and generate 10 million direct jobs. Currently (2012-2013), the Indian IT and ITES industry exports touched US$75.8 billion and generated direct employment for three million people.

Later Sharma and Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan gave away the NASSCOM 2013 Social Innovation Honours to eight unique achievers for their contribution to bridging the social divide. Uttar Pradesh's IVRS-based Mid-day meal delivery tracking programme bagged the UNICEF honour.