India willing to collaborate with East Asian partners in the production of generic drugs and medical technologies used for treatment of COVID-19 patients, as also in the area of vaccines production: Anupriya Patel

New Delhi : Anupriya Patel, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry attended 9th EAS-EMM (East Asia Summit-Economic Ministers’ Meeting) on Wednesday via webinar.

Addressing the meeting, she said the World Trade Organisation (WTO) had observed that the strong monetary and fiscal policies introduced by many governments in response to pandemic helped to sustain the global demand and trade. Considering the encouraging trend, WTO had also revised its projection for global trade volume growth in 2021 to 8% compared to the 7% earlier.

But, new waves of infection could easily undermine any anticipated recovery.  Global and equitable vaccine roll-out is a prerequisite for the strong and sustained global recovery.  Despite numerous challenges & constraints, India has successfully administered over 740 million vaccine doses.

“Various immediate supportive actions taken by India, including the milestones reached in vaccination helped us to manage the pandemic crisis. We have learnt lessons, adapted our approach and fine-tuned our systems as we went along,” she said.

Adding on, she applauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that he has called for adopting a ‘One-Earth-One-Health’ approach. She said that the world needs meaningful partnerships, sharing of advanced technologies, collaboration in vaccine and pharmaceutical production, capacity building and transparency in health information.  India is willing to collaborate with East Asian partners in the production of generic drugs and medical technologies used for treatment of COVID-19 patients, as also in the area of vaccines production. 70% of the global vaccines are produced in India and our capacity to produce quality medicines and vaccines at affordable prices are globally recognised.

In an interconnected and globalized world, no one is safe until everyone is safe; India looks forward to an early outcome on the TRIPS Waiver proposal for vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. Shared prosperity is impossible without shared commitment. India’s spirit of brotherhood, should give confidence to our friends that it will be their natural & most reliable ally in years to come.

India recognizes that the international community has a collective responsibility to work together against the COVID-19 pandemic in the true spirit of partnership within existing international frameworks. India endorses the concept of working towards ensuring transparent, trustworthy, dependable & reliable supply chain. India is a part of the “Supply Chain Resilience Initiative” launched in September, 2020, as a firm step towards building resilient supply chains in the region.

Though, the abundance of trade agreements in Indo-Pacific has led to a decline in tariff rates over time, non-tariff measures act as a major trade barrier in the region. In spite the hitherto available scientific evidence and literature confirming that the COVID 19 virus cannot survive on surfaces and food packages, the exports, especially the agri exports, of many countries, including India, faced restrictive measures on account of COVID concern on the packaging.

At a difficult time when the world is already reeling under lockdowns and supply chain disruptions, such restrictive barriers created by certain countries added to the existing vulnerabilities, which was not in the interest of the regional trade. Facilitating exports of essential goods and food products are important for food security and wellbeing of people. India reiterates the need for fair, transparent, reciprocal and inclusive trade which promotes the interest of all.

She stated that India endorses the concept of working towards ensuring trustworthy and reliable supply chain. “I have very keenly listened to ERIA’s discussion on the value chains and post pandemic recovery in East Asia. Regional and global value chains are a core element of the economic strength of the EAS region. It is heartening to know from ERIA’s research work that the pandemic so far did not disrupt the production system and trade patterns in East Asia Region and the region maintained its importance in the World Trade Network,” the MoSsaid.

While acknowledging the progress achieved so far, India would like to emphasise the need to further strengthening the EAS work processes for appropriate coordinated responses to the pandemic, learning from each other’s best practices.

India acknowledges that innovation and adaptation by businesses is crucial in maintaining the value chains resilience. India appreciates how the dynamic firms in the EAS region were able to quickly re-arrange the supply chains and relationships in response to the disruptions and the demand shocks. ERIA’s recommendations on enhanced trade facilitation and use of digital technology are noted. The need for adopting emerging new technologies, in a swiftly changing world is recognized as an important tool for modernization and transformation of industry. The emergence of AI-based innovations in future is inevitable.  However, we also need to acknowledge the challenges of data protection and cyber security arising from the unprecedented growth of AI technologies.

She pressed that trade should become the engine for reviving global growth. It requires strengthening the Multilateral Trading System, with WTO at its core, based on the principles of openness, fairness, transparency, inclusivity and non-discrimination. It should provide for robust rules for global trade.

Acting East is now a central element in India’s Indo-Pacific vision. India wants to see a strong, unified and prosperous ASEAN playing a central role in the emerging dynamic of the Indo-Pacific. We see a great deal of convergence between India’s vision for the Indo-pacific and the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific.

She shared that this year is the 75th year of India’s independence and the country is celebrating it in the form of ongoing ‘AzadikaAmritMahotsav’ which means ‘Elixir of energy of Independence’.

She congratulated and thanked Brunei for its efficient role as the Chair of ASEAN. She also commended the ASEAN Secretariat for putting together a useful analysis of regional and global economic development in the discussion papers.

She concluded by reiterating that India’s support in collective actions of the EAS Forum aimed at mitigating the economic impact of the pandemic and strengthening regional economic architecture.

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