Covid puts focus on supply chains, global governance, ethics: Jaishankar

Written by eveningindia

NEW DELHI: The covid-19 pandemic is reshaping the world by bringing out the value of trust and the importance of reliable supply chains, heightening risk aversion and encouraging strategic autonomy, Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar said Thursday.

Addressing the “Future of Asia” conference organised by Nikkei, Jaishankar said India was working to “strengthen and de-risk the global economy” through partnerships such as the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative with Japan and Australia.

“We in India are going through a particularly difficult situation right now. Understandably, the world’s attention is focused primarily on the public health response,” he said adding: “What perhaps is yet to be fully comprehended is the (pandemic’s) long-term impact on the global order, including on the future of Asia.”

To mitigate the impact of the pandemic, what was needed was “international cooperation on a scale that could not have even be conceived of earlier.”

“No national capacity, however large, can be adequate. And just overflows from such capacities are clearly not enough to address global needs. Even a collective response, by itself, could fall short if it is just an aggregate of the present capacities,” he warned.

“Covid-19 has certainly triggered debates on issues like supply chains, global governance, social responsibility and even ethics,” he said.

In an apparent reference to China dominating global supply chains, the minister said parts of the world that were previously more sanguine about globalisation have begun attaching more importance to strategic autonomy.

“Disruptions also raised natural concerns about long-term reliability and resilience. In many areas, it became apparent that the global economy was dangerously dependent on specific production centers,” the minister said in an apparent reference to China.

“The nature of the Covid experience has also brought to fore concerns of trust and transparency. Opacity can no longer be overlooked; it has real implications for the rest of the world. It was bad enough to be confronted with shortages and disruptions; worse that they could become pressure points,” the minister said.

Referring to the role India can play, the minister said Asia’s third largest economy could help “de-risk” the global economy through more effective partnerships. A case in point was India was working with Japan and Australia on the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative.

“Where the Quad arrangement that also involves the US is concerned, its agenda today covers vaccine collaboration, critical and emerging technologies, semi-conductors, supply chains, critical materials and of course connectivity,” he said.

India had also announced talks with the UK and the European Union on free trade pacts, Jaishankar pointed out.

At home, India had taken steps to improve domestic capacities through reforms like the production-linked incentive (PLI) schemes to encourage manufacturing in 13 sectors such as mobiles, APIs for pharmaceuticals, medical devices, electronic products, networking products, food items and auto components, he said.

“By creating a level-playing field and encouraging a component eco-system, it will integrate India deeper into the global supply chain,” Jaishankar added.

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