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Investment Opportunities in India, China Dominate G7 Opening Session

  • Michael Drudge

Senior officials from the world's seven leading economies are meeting in London as Britain has assumed the chairmanship of the group for the next six months.

The opening session of what is called the Advancing Enterprise summit focused on the economic growth and investment prospects of India and China, two of the world's largest developing countries.

The Indian finance minister, P. Chidambaram, said his country's strong democratic tradition offers investors political stability and transparency.

"Democracy is a powerful tool for inducing greater transparency and accountability in economic policy," he said. "Voters are constantly pushing political parties to deliver higher and more inclusive economic growth. Indian voters have been quite ruthless in voting out governments that they perceive not to have delivered their promises."

The governor of China's central bank, Zhou Xiaochuan, also addressed the conference. He said China has an edge over India because of better infrastructure like ports and roads. But he says China can learn lessons from India on how to build up its services sector, and become less reliant on manufacturing.

"As a neighbor country, we try to learn as much as possible from the Indian experience," he said. "First of all to substantially increase the production of our services sector. This will also help with the reduction in the consumption of energy and raw materials."

Another speaker was Jeff Immelt, chairman of the U.S. manufacturing and services giant General Electric. He says China and India offer tremendous growth potential for international investors.

"If you are sitting in this room today, your bet better be that both of these countries are going to figure out where they are weak, and do them well," he said. "And the bet has to be that China is going to figure out microeconomic practices and India's going to fix its infrastructure, and therefore both of them will be tremendously competitive over time."

Another major topic under consideration at the two-day finance ministers meeting is a British call for debt relief for Africa. The British Treasury chief, Gordon Brown, proposes the sale of bonds that would raise $50 billion a year for development aid for sub-Saharan countries.

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