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Prime  Minister  Ranil Wickremesinghe who last week addressed the 12th World Islamic Economic Forum in Jakarta, Indonesia said that while maximizing on the opportunities presented by Western economic policies, countries in South Asia also need to learn from its own cultures of Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam.

“For instance, there is much that secular states can learn from the principles of Islamic Commercial Law – in particular, the notion of fair industrial relations, the notion of fair contract, the notion of commercial integrity, and the notion of freedom from usury,” Wickremesinghe said, delivering a speech under the theme Convergence of Politics, Economics and Faith.

He further noted that a key driver of growth for the entire Asian region in the coming century will be the expansion of intra-Asian trade and hence he projects significant advances in the liberalization of intra-Asian trade barriers in the coming decade.

“This will be primarily as a response to a slowing in demand for Asian exports in the West. But more importantly, it will also reflect the strong growth of individual consumer incomes throughout Asia,” he said.

Hence, Wickremesinghe proposed a vision of convergence for the future – “a convergence of our heritages from our historic trading past, the multiple forces of globalization and secular western economic models, our own religious ethics and practices, and the challenges and opportunities of the present times that are inextricably interwoven with the future of Islamic and secular societies worldwide,” he said.

He explained that it is only through engaging in dialogue and accepting the convergences of these systems and cultures that we can enrich our own nations in a time when social equities and equalities of market economies as well as religious extremism have come to the forefront.

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