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The Editors

Modi Should Practice What He Preaches on Trade

The last thing India needs is a lurch toward protectionism.
He said India was open for business.

He said India was open for business.

Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images

At Davos in January, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India was open for business and even likened protectionism to terrorism. This month his government raised tariffs on nearly 50 product groups, from clocks and kites to TV and auto components. The measures follow new duties imposed in December on electronic goods such as mobile phones and microwave ovens.

The idea is to give reeling local industries a respite from cheap Chinese imports. Temporary protection, says the government, will let local companies grow into viable competitors that can stand on their own. Plausible as this may sound, not least to the country's voters, the policy is almost certain to fail -- just as it will in the U.S., where the Trump administration is making similar protectionist arguments.