On 7th October 2021, during the inaugural session of the Indo-Asean Business Summit, the Minister of External Affairs of India, S Jaishankar said that India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) should focus on cooperation to ensure resilient supply chains and sustainable recovery to address vulnerabilities exposed by the Covid-19 crisis.
He said that while India’s “Look East” policy has matured into “Act East”, there was still a need to re-imagine India-Asean cooperation following the uncertainties arising from the Covid pandemic and also added that we cannot see it as a one-time phenomenon and must plan for the future.
He added, “India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) should focus on cooperation to ensure resilient supply chains and sustainable recovery to address vulnerabilities exposed by the Covid-19 crisis.” Adding further, he said, “Businesses can also play a key role in forging new partnerships for collaboration in areas such as vaccine and pharmaceutical production to cope with the inadequacies in the global health system brought out by the pandemic.”
This business summit, organised by the external affairs ministry and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), saw ambassadors of ASEAN states and India’s ambassadors to the region participating in brainstorming sessions that focused on strengthening business links between India and the 10-nation inclusive group in order to drive post-pandemic recoveries.
Jaishankar said that the pandemic gave additional impetus to diversification of the global value chain, and India’s campaign for self-reliance will make it a trustworthy partner for global industrial resiliency. He added, “At the same time, we need to take full advantage of building back better by ensuring a greener economic recovery.”
The important points noted by our minister of external affairs, S Jaishankar, included:
– The pandemic provides the backdrop for how most countries approach their economic policies and global outlook because it disrupted supply chains, impacted manufacturing, affected trade and veritably ruined many services sectors.
– From the prolonged crisis of the last 2 years, 4 areas have come into sharp focus for international business cooperation – resilient and reliable supply chains, health security, digital for development and green & sustainable recovery.
– Covid-19 brought many inadequacies in the global health system. Meaningful partnerships, sharing of advanced technologies, collaboration in vaccine and pharmaceutical production, capacity-building and transparency in health information are all part of the answers.
– A large part of the answers, both short-term and beyond, lies in diversification, expansion and transparency. De-risking national economies will only be possible if we achieve a strong measure of success quickly in that regard.
– There is no doubt that ASEAN is one of the major hubs for India’s global economic engagement. But as it develops, it is natural that we would like to revisit the level of ambition that we have set for our partnership.
– India can offer science and technology-based innovations to help Asean and the larger Indo-Pacific regions.
In the end, he said that we must all recognise that a different world awaits us wherein one needs to put greater premium on trust and transparency, resilience and reliability, as also on choices and redundancy.
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