Trade and Commerce ministers of India, Australia, and Japan have underscored the necessity and potential to enhance the resiliency of supply chains in the Indo-Pacific region. The ministerial-level meeting on Supply Chains was attended by India’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal, Australia’s Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Simon Birmingham, and Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry, Kajiyama Hiroshi through videoc onference on Tuesday.
Recognizing the pressing need for regional cooperation on supply chain resilience in the Indo- Pacific, the Ministers shared their intention to work toward the launch of a new initiative to achieve the objective through cooperation. The details of the new initiative slated for launch later this year will be worked out by senior officials. The ministers also invited other like minded countries in the region to participate in the initiative.
Addressing the Trilateral meeting, Piyush Goyal said that the initiative could not have come at a more opportune time in the post COVID scenario when there is a likelihood of rechurning of supply chains in the Indo-Pacific region and it is incumbent upon us to take the initiative. Referring to Prime Minister Modi’s remarks, he said it is the need of the hour that India should play a big role in the supply chains.
He said that the initiative also dwells on improving the competitiveness of sectors. Stressing on the need for digitization of trade procedures he said, “It is important that all of us maintain this momentum on facilitation through the adoption of electronic documents, commensurate with our capacities,”. The applicability of such measures was clearly exemplified during the COVID crisis when many of the regulatory agencies were not functioning physically.
Describing Australia, India, and Japan as crucial players in the region, Goyal said that during 2019, the cumulative GDP was $ 9.3 trillion while cumulative merchandise goods and services trade were $ 2.7 trillion and $0.9 trillion respectively. “With such a strong baseline, it is important that we use this opportunity to work towards enhancing the share of our trade and investment in the region”, the Minister said.
The Ministers also reaffirmed their determination to take a lead in delivering a free, fair, inclusive, non-discriminatory, transparent, predictable, and stable trade and investment environment and in keeping their markets open. Stressing on the need to expand trade between these countries, Goyal expressed the hope that the proposed initiative must clearly try to bridge gaps and work towards enhancing mutual trade.
Dismissing any misconception about the policy of being Atmanirbhar or self- reliant Goyal said that the policy seeks to make India economically stronger with enhanced capacities ensuring the resiliency of supply chains. He said that India, in its tradition of treating the world as a family, played a crucial role during the COVID crisis with the export measures for the supply of critical medical products put in place only to ensure equitable distribution. “All these measures indicate our credibility and reliability as a partner and I am sure this is an important parameter as we venture into this new initiative for ensuring the resiliency of supply chains. Transparency and trust have to be the hallmark of our initiative if we seek to expand its footprint”, Goyal said.
– Abhishek Jha