NEW DELHI: External affairs minister S. Jaishankar on Thursday said that India can “de-risk the global economy through more effective partnerships” calling for multiple engines of growth, in a multipolar and “rebalanced” world.
Addressing the Nikkei “Future of Asia” conference, Jaishankar called for diversification of supply chains from the current over-dependence on China.
“It is only with such redundancy that the world can face the next pandemic better than we are doing the current one,” Jaishankar said.
The pandemic, he said, had upended the global conversation on globalisation — countries focusing more on strategic autonomy at least in critical areas of the economy and supply chains.
“Trust and transparency” are foremost in the minds of countries after the pandemic. “It was bad enough to be confronted with shortages and disruptions; worse that they could become pressure points,” Jaishankar said.
This is a veiled reference to China’s coercive actions on supplies both in the first and second waves of the pandemic.
There was a subtle reference to the fact that countries went into extreme nationalist modes during the pandemic. “Few practiced what they preached. Some even stopped preaching altogether,” Jaishankar said. “Call it buying nationally, middle-class concerns, dual circulation of self-reliance — there is no question that many polities are seeking to hedge against excessive exposure internationally,” he added.
Jaishankar said, “Meeting the health and medical requirements of the world effectively requires a mature recognition of the global nature of the underlying supply chains. … it cannot be addressed purely nationally and in fact needs a collaboration of a very different order. The answer to the pandemic challenge is to expand and smoothen the global flows while creating confidence that the outcomes are for the benefit of the entire world.”
Making a push for building greater capacities at home, Jaishankar said, trusted supply chains and improved global cooperation “can be facilitated by improved national capacities. So, if India is to make a real contribution to Asian and global economic recovery, it can start by helping itself more.”
The government, he said, is working on removing “sectoral disabilities, creating economies of scale and ensuring efficiencies. By creating a level-playing field and encouraging a component eco-system, it will integrate India deeper into the global supply chain.”
With Japan and Australia, he said, “we are working on a 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 connectivity, amongst others.”
The Covid pandemic has rewritten the rules of international cooperation, but among smaller and closer groups of countries, particularly in the area of vaccines and post-pandemic recovery. “Those with shared interests and common values will find it easier to forge stronger partnerships. To make a real difference, the global order must address the concerns and issues that the pandemic has thrown up.”