Modi is leading a big government and business delegation to the summit in Davos, the first Indian prime minister do so in 21 years, aiming to showcase India as a fast-growing economic power and a potential driver of global growth.
His comments on rising trade barriers came ahead of an address to the forum later this week by US President Donald Trump, who has championed inward-looking policies for the world’s biggest economy.
“Instead of globalisation, the power of protectionism is putting its head up. Their wish is not only to save themselves from globalisation, but to change the natural flow of globalisation,” Modi said at the opening of the forum, which has attracted 70 heads of state and government, chief executives and top bankers.
“The result of this is that we are seeing new types of tariff and non-tariff-based barriers being imposed.
“Bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations appear to have come to a halt.
“There is a slowdown in cross-border financial investments and the expansion of (the) global supply chain appears to have slowed down.”
Trump has been pushing an “America First” policy of getting businesses to invest in the US instead of overseas, potentially affecting the growth prospects of emerging economies such as India dependent on foreign investment.
During his 2016 election campaign, Trump blamed globalisation for ravaging US manufacturing jobs as companies sought to reduce labour costs by relocating to Mexico and elsewhere. Trump is due to address the forum on Friday.
Modi said climate change was a major threat to the world, yet the world had failed to come together to tackle it. He said everyone wanted carbon emissions to be cut, but the rich world was not ready to help developing economies with new technology.
India, one of the world’s fastest-growing major economies and a growing contributor to pollution, has said it is keen to honour its commitment to clean up the environment despite Trump pulling out of the Paris accord on cutting carbon emissions.