To meet the growing demand for COVID-19, India is set to collaborate with the 10-nation ASEAN bloc to produce generic drugs and medical technologies. ASEAN members have highlighted the importance of strengthening regional supply chains to make them resilient as the pandemic has heightened challenges.
In a joint statement after the 8th East Asia Summit – Economic Ministers’ Meeting, which the member nations reaffirmed their commitment to promote trade and investment, minimise disruptions to trade and global supply chains and facilitate supply chain connectivity, including for essential goods such as medical supplies, medicines, including vaccines, food, commodities and other essential supplies and services in the region.
The ministers pledged to continue to work together to realise a free, fair, transparent, non-discriminatory, predictable, and stable trade environment, and affirmed the importance of agreed-upon rules in the World Trade Organization (WTO). The ministers, as per the statement, agreed that any trade restrictive emergency measures put in place to address the impact of COVID-19 must be targeted, proportionate, transparent, temporary, consistent with WTO rules and do not create unnecessary barriers to trade or disruption of global and regional supply chains.
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Piyush Goyal, the Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, said India is privileged to be able to serve the world by producing 70% of the global vaccines and being trusted as the pharmacy of the world. “India wants to see a strong, unified and prosperous ASEAN playing a central role in the emerging dynamics of the Indo-Pacific as it contributes to India’s prosperity and security as well,” he said. “We see a great deal of convergence between India’s vision for the Indo-Pacific and the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific.”
Calling for the restoration of the functionality of the appellate dispute resolution body of the WTO, Goyal expressed India’s willingness to partner with all countries to ensure fair, transparent and balanced trading systems, and to enhance connectivity, for national, regional and global economic growth. The minister reiterated that India supports the reform of the WTO while preserving the centrality, core values and fundamental principles of the WTO.