India Coming Out of Second Wave of Covid-19; Will Witness Strong Economic Recovery: Jaishankar

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India is coming out of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic and it will witness a strong economic recovery and contribute to being an engine of growth for the global economy, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Tuesday. In a virtual address at the inaugural session of the Indo-Pacific business summit, he said India will be a more dynamic and friendlier business destination and it will be part of more reliable and resilient supply chains that the post-Covid world requires. He also said that the Indo-Pacific will be an arena of particular “activity and energy”, noting that the evolving situation in the region reflected the reality of globalisation, the emergence of multipolarity and the benefits of rebalancing.

“India is coming out of the second wave and will witness a strong economic recovery. It will be a more dynamic and friendlier business destination. We will contribute to being an engine of growth for the global economy,” Jaishankar said. “And we will be very much a part of more reliable and resilient supply chains that the post-Covid world requires. International cooperation, especially among businesses, will be very much a key to the better world that we all seek,” he said. The external affairs minister also listed measures taken by the government to boost growth in areas of agriculture, infrastructure, manufacturing and tourism. “And all of this is encapsulated by a framework that envisages an India of deeper strengths, greater capacities and more responsibility. And not least, in making it much easier to do business,” he said.

Referring to the Indo-Pacific, Jaishankar said the region represents a “return of history”. “A seamless and integrated space was disconnected decades ago by the strategy of the day. Today, as many Indian Ocean economies trade further east and as Pacific ones too have displayed a presence south and westwards, we are quite sensibly seeing the landscape for what it really is,” he said. “Indo-Pacific reflects the reality of globalization, the emergence of multi-polarity and the benefits of rebalancing. It means the overcoming of the Cold War and a rejection of bipolarity and dominance. Most of all, it is an expression of our collective interest in promoting global prosperity and securing the global commons,” he added. He said the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) advanced by India clearly validates “this assertion”. “As we speak of common good and common efforts, it is natural that this is addressed, amongst other means, through a business summit. So once again, I am so glad to welcome you all to it,” he said.

At the East Asia summit in Bangkok in 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed setting up the IPOI to conserve and sustainably use the maritime domain and to make meaningful efforts to create a safe and secure maritime domain. The evolving situation in the Indo-Pacific region in the wake of China’s increasing military muscle-flexing has become a major talking point among leading global powers.

Several countries and blocs have come out with their vision for the Indo-Pacific considering its growing strategic interests. “The transformation of the last decade is today over-shadowed, unfortunately, by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Jaishankar said. He said has disrupted our supply chains, negatively impacted manufacturing, made international trade unpredictable and ruined many services sectors.

“Globalised production networks remain vulnerable and fragile, with global merchandise trade falling by 5.6 per cent in 2020, compared to 2019 and the predicted trade in services declining by as much as 15.4 per cent in the same duration,” he said. “This decline in merchandise trade is the sharpest since 2009, whereas the decline in services trade is the biggest since 1990. The hit taken by travel, transport and tourism activities is alarming and really moves us into unchartered territory,” he added.

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