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As US raises tariffs, India's Modi defends free trade

  • Switzerland-Davos-Forum

    India Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivers his speech to the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, Tuesday.

    MARKUS SCHREIBER / AP

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DAVOS, Switzerland — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned Tuesday that the recent wave of trade protectionism, in which governments raise barriers to free trade between nations, is “worrisome.”

Modi delivered the warning in a speech Tuesday just hours after the U.S. government of President Donald Trump approved tariffs on imported solar-energy components and large washing machines in a bid to help U.S. manufacturers.

“Forces of protectionism are raising their heads against globalization,” he told a crowd of business and government leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Without directly mentioning Trump or the U.S., he said “the solution to this worrisome situation against globalization is not isolation.”

Modi quoted Mohandas Gandhi to drive home his point: “I don't want the windows of my house to be closed from all directions. I want the winds of cultures of all countries to enter my house with aplomb and go out also.”

Modi was meant to be the event's highlight until Trump decided to come as well. Trump is due to speak Friday, and the tariffs his administration approved this week will overshadow his arrival.

Modi's speech follows on from Chinese President Xi Jinping's address to the Davos elite at last year's event. Xi portrayed his country as a champion of free trade on the same week Trump was inaugurated president.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is later due to address the Davos crowd, which is gathering in unusually heavy snowfall.



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