Press Trust of india

World trading rules have been gamed: Jaishankar

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New Delhi: In its first year of Independence, India put its trust in multilateralism and took the Kashmir “aggression issue” to the United Nations but others made it a matter of “accession” for geopolitical reasons, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday.

He made the remarks while elaborating on the need for having coexistence between national interests and multilateralism at a session of the Raisina Dialogue.

“That was always the case. Look at our own example. Very literally in our first year of Independence, we put our trust in multilateralism and took the Kashmir aggression issue to the UN and others made it into an accession issue and they did it for geopolitical reasons,” Jaishankar said.

He was asked whether values are looking less important in the current geopolitical landscape as countries compromise on principles but never on interests.

“If you say people are playing multilateralism, they always did. We have grown up. It is not that we should be against multilateralism,” he said.

“Multilateralism is a kind of lowest common denominator and anything above that. It will exist side-by-side with national interests with the calculations and competitions of countries,” the external affairs minister said.

At the same time, he agreed with the view that there is a place for sentiment and solidarity as well.

Responding to a separate question on reform of the UN, Jaishankar, citing globalisation, said the “fact is that the world trading rules have been gamed.”

“If you look at the last five years, all the big issues, in a way, we have not been able to find a multilateral solution. So the results or lack of results demonstrates the case for reform,” he said.

“But I think there is a larger global conversation and global rebalancing as well which is bigger than the UN, which is really (about) whose rules, how does it work because what has also happened in many cases is the rules have been gamed,” he said.

“We speak about globalisation for example. The fact is that the world trading rules have been gamed. And we have a lot of our challenges today that also emanate from how countries have used that for their benefit at the expense of the international system,” he noted.

Asked about various complex geopolitical challenges and diverse positions on them by key nations, Jaishankar said the endeavour has to be to find middle ground.

“It will be everybody’s endeavour to find middle ground. The reality in many cases is we won’t find a middle ground. We will find some ground, some common ground,” he said.

“But the idea that everybody would agree on the most important issues of the day is a bit of a fantasy. The fact is competition is for real. You (moderator) spoke about camp politics, Sometimes, there is a logic to it,” he said.

While asking the question, the moderator cited the US’s strong backing of Israel notwithstanding the situation in Gaza as well as India maintaining solid ties with Russia despite West’s reservations over it in view of the Ukraine conflict.

“In addition to the old issues, there are also the new issues. Let us take the big debates of the day, connectivity, debt, trade. Now how these are leveraged today,” Jaishankar said.

“These are not necessarily all coming out of the West. So the West, as the dominant force earlier, is largely responsible for where we are today. But I think the new players haven’t helped. If you take UN Security Council reform, the biggest opponent is not a Western country,” he said.

“So let’s get the totality of the problem. I think the reality is we will have to battle bit by bit to create groups which will push for change,” he said.

“On many issues, you will get different combinations of countries and we’ll have to live with a long period of incremental progress before we get to some kind of landing point,” he said.


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