India has “serious reservations” about China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) plan given that there are issues of “sovereignty” at stake, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Saturday.
“The idea is always there for the future that the expansion of connectivity takes place between countries,” Mr. Jaitley said at a roundtable on the role of trade in Asia’s economic outlook, when asked for his views on the OBOR initiative.
“But the particular suggestion that you have made, I have no hesitation in saying we have some serious reservations about it, because of sovereignty issues.”
China is set to host ‘The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation’ in Beijing starting May 14 and has been trying to bring India on board. One section of OBOR passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Pakistan sees the plan as a welcome step to boost regional connectivity which is essential to promoting intra-regional trade, Finance Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar said at the event, part of the Asian Development Bank’s 50th annual meeting here. “Connectivity is very important and the One Belt, One Road is a very good initiative...,” Mr. Dar said.
Separately, Mr. Jaitley said trade as a lynchpin of economic growth was here to stay, the relative success or failure of multilateral trade agreements notwithstanding. Protectionist tendencies would also fail to deter the natural flow of goods and services across borders as the global economy, especially companies in different parts of the world, stood to lose too much from barriers to free trade, he observed. “Notwithstanding the fact that a particular trade deal may move forward or not, RCEP could move forward, probably will, but trade is going to move forward.”
( The writer is in Yokohama at the invitation of the ADB )