Kevin Rudd, former prime minister of Australia and chairman of the APEC Task Force, spoke to Business Standard on the need to include India in the global trade body. Edited excerpts:
While India has taken several economic reform measures, there is still a lot to be done. Do you think they might hamper our bid for the APEC membership?
The key question here is one of identifying areas of regulatory change, which India wishes to make. APEC can also be used as an effective sounding board for that and building support mechanism. And finally, bringing about those changes at a timing and at a pace which suits you. So, there is no prima facie impediment concerning India’s membership in APEC.
So, lack of economic reforms will not come in the way of India’s APEC membership?
Well, I will go by the official statements made by the Indian government on its economic policies. The Indian government has taken significant changes on foreign investment inflows and this is not a blank sheet, many changes that have already been taken. APEC becomes an effective and collaborative support mechanism on what area of reforms and standards you may wish to introduce.
India had been trying to join APEC since 1993. Why has the realisation suddenly dawned upon the members?
I think what happened that was back in the 1990s, there was a formal application and for reasons I do not understand, they were not successful. That was a historical error by our predecessors and we are trying to rectify that error.
Because I think it is good for India and good for APEC.