SINGAPORE (AP) -- Growth in India and China will keep driving the global economy despite a slump in the United States, India's commerce minister said Friday.
''One of the engines of growth in a slipping global economy situation will be India and this region,'' Indian Commerce Minister Kamal Nath said to reporters in Singapore following the launch of his new book, ''India's Century.''
''Nobody is insulated because the U.S. is the largest engine of growth in the global economy,'' Nath said.
But ''the world economy, driven by China, Asian economies, India, are obviously going to help in ensuring that there is no slump in global economic growth,'' he said.
Nath said India's domestic demand would fuel its expansion despite signs of slowing. India's economic growth decelerated to 8.4 percent on year in the October-December quarter from 8.9 percent in July-September quarter.
The Indian government is taking steps to address accelerating inflation, he said. His ministry released data Friday showing India's key inflation rate -- the wholesale price index -- surged to a 3-year high of 7 percent on year in the week that ended March 22.
''We are taking all steps to ensure that the supply side management is improved,'' Nath said. He said the main effects of inflation were not seen in food but in industrial goods, which were becoming more expensive because of rising oil prices and freight prices.
''There will have to be restraint and constraint by industry themselves where industrial goods are concerned,'' he said. ''Government will have to ensure that out public distribution system remains efficient and working and well stocked.''
Nath also said India was hoping to conclude a long-delayed free trade agreement with ASEAN, the 10-member Southeast Asian bloc, in the next three months.