Blog: Chris MercerWest vies for a slice of eastern promise

Chris Mercer | 8 November 2010

Nothing demonstrates the shifting economic axis better than the current spate of state visits between the western nations and Asia.

US president Barack Obama is reported to be travelling through India with around 250 business leaders and investors. As he does so, the UK's prime minister, David Cameron, is preparing to touch down in China. A forward delegation led by business secretary Vince Cable includes some of the UK's top business representatives, including the head of the Scotch Whisky Association, Gavin Hewitt.

Last week, France had its turn at the table. Chinese president Hu Jintao was given full military honours during his trip to Paris and the result was billions of euros-worth of trade deals between the two nations. Hu Jintao was kept away from the press; President Sarkozy presumably viewing France's libertarian principles as a small sacrifice for taming the great Chinese Dragon.      

Afterall, western nations are locked in a game for the affections of these emerging nations. The pressure for bilateral trade with the likes of India and China has intensified since the onset of the economic downturn and only serves to highlight a shift in world power.

News today that the UK Government is to make "representations" on behalf of Diageo in China underlines the blurring of political and business spheres in emerging markets.

Obama's visit to India is most interesting. He today backed the country to be a future member of the United Nations Security Council. India's democratic credentials - albeit a little rough around the edges - plus its proximity to China, its potential importance in containing problems in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as its potential as a hugely important consumer goods market, make the country perfectly-placed to build much stronger ties with the US.

There is a clear indication that the US might do more to actively build up India, which in the end it probably sees as more of a natural ally than, say, China. That's getting a bit geopolitical for a drinks business blog, but the economic consequences could be important.


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