Protectionism is terrible, says Gates


The Financial Express (India)
By FE Bureau
July 25, 2009

New Delhi: While retaining his philanthropic side—a mainstay since he gave up managing day-to-day affairs at global technology giant Microsoft Corporation over a year ago—Bill Gates on Friday spoke out against protectionism, which has been gaining currency in developed countries, especially in the US, after massive job losses in the wake of the economic slowdown.

Gates, who is in India to receive the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament & Development on behalf of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which he heads, said any curb on immigration, “Is terrible for the US and terrible for the rest of the world. Interchange of talent is an important thing.”

Reacting to US President Barack Obama’s recent statement on creating more jobs in Buffalo, Gates said that an Indian politician would have wanted to create more jobs in Bangalore than in Buffalo. On a serious note, he said that imposing immigration restrictions, which keep out talented people, are damaging for any country. “All citizens of a country are also citizens of the world. Fortunately, the job market is not a zero-sum market… Which means that just because a job is created in one location doesn’t mean that it is shifted,” he said.

Addressing a conference at Microsoft Research, which completed five years, Gates threw in an anecdote to put across his point. He recalled that 20 years ago, the company hired 15 graduates from IIT for its US office. “The Indian press said that it’s a terrible thing for the country and the press in the US also said that it was terrible thing for America. I thought it must be a good thing for somebody,” he said. Gates went on to add that some of those people came back and helped fund Microsoft Research.

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