The balance of economic power in the world is shifting to Asia, and India and China remain the only two countries that can drive global economic growth said Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe today, at the opening session of the India Economic Forum.
“World Economic Forum in Delhi this year says that the world is expecting India to translate potential into action. We are at the threshold of another historic moment. If the pace of reforms (in India) fails to pick up, companies may look elsewhere. But where is elsewhere?” he said referring to India’s rising importance in the global economy.
“It has to be India or China, there is no other place to go today. That is the hard reality,” he said.
Economic ties between India and Sri Lanka are expected to get a major boost after the signing of the Economic and Technological Cooperation Agreement this year. Mr Wickramasinghe had earlier clarified that his ties with India were economic, political and cultural, while those with China were based purely on commerce.
In India for a three-day visit – during which he met with senior political leaders and heads of businesses – Mr Wickramasinghe said Asia may hold the key to global economic recovery.
“(At first) the West wrote the rules of globalisation; we were just supposed to play along. When people here invested in western countries, there were no complaints. But when their (western countries) people started going to Switzerland, they started complaining,” he said, pointing out that it was time for Asian countries to get a bigger say in global economic policy making.
“Asia will bailout the world; otherwise we can also create our own system. A very, very stable system,” he said.
He said that Sri Lanka – US economic relations were not progressing fast enough, since both sides were waiting for the result of US presidential elections.
“We have kept 500 acres of land for a golf course and Trump towers,” he joked, referring to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that in a “not so encouraging” global environment, India with its commitment to “equitable and inclusive” growth, could be the “engine of growth” for the world.