PM fears slowdown in India economy for '08-09

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Paris, Sep 30 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today expressed fears of a ''slowdown'' in India's average economic growth in 2008-2009 as a fallout of the recent meltdown in the US and called for urgent steps to restore confidence in the functioning of international financial markets.

''The Indian economy has grown at an average rate of 9 per cent in the past four years. It is expected to slow down in 2008-2009 reflecting the slow-down in the global economy,'' the Prime Minister said in an address at the India-EU Business Summit here.

He, however, said it would grow between 7.5 to 8 per cent.

Observing that the global economy faced ''uncertain times,'' he said the crisis in the financial sector had cast a shadow on the global liquidity and it was unfortunate that when many developing countries were beginning to benefit from the positive potential of globalisation, the tide turned the other way and the economic prospects deteriorated.

The Prime Minister said bilateral Indo-French trade had been experiencing double digit annual growth for many years an there was reason to believe that that the annual bilateral trade could be increased to 100 billion euros within the next five years.

''The early conclusion of the broad-based trade and Investment agreement would no doubt stimulate such growth and achievement of these targets even earlier,'' he added.

On the civilian nuclear cooperation, the Prime Minister said India was expected to finalise such agreements with other European countries too.

Pointing out that India had a successful space programme for launch of small and medium class satellites in both near earth and geo-stationary orbits, the Prime Minister said the EU could make use of India's launch vehicles for launching requirements of small and medium class payloads.

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