Vaccine delivery under the Quad framework will commence in early 2022 to countries in the Indo-Pacific region, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Monday.
In March, leaders of the Quad, comprising India, the US, Japan and Australia, launched the Quad Vaccine Partnership to help enhance equitable access to safe and effective vaccines in the Indo-Pacific and the world. Quad countries have pledged to donate more than 1.2 billion vaccine doses globally, in addition to the doses they have financed through COVAX.
During an interaction with US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) on 'Looking Ahead: The US-India Strategic and Commercial Partnership in 2022', Shringla said as the two countries close the chapter on 2021 and usher in 2022, they are also looking at continuing their engagement under the Quad framework.
"With two-leader level summits this year and several working groups set up to address contemporary priorities, we have our task cut out to implement the vision of our leaders for a peaceful, prosperous and stable Indo-Pacific," he said. "Vaccine delivery under the Quad framework will commence in early 2022 to countries in the Indo-Pacific region. Other initiatives are also in the pipeline,' Shringla said.
The foreign secretary also said India's Commerce and Industry Minister and the US Trade Representative have agreed to work together to resolve outstanding trade issues to reach convergence in the near future. Both sides would be in regular contact to identify specific trade outcomes which could be finalised by mid-2022, he said.
"We understand that the proposed restoration of the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Scheme is pending approval of the US Congress. The meetings of the CEO Forum and Commercial Dialogue early next year would also be useful opportunities to take forward our bilateral trade agenda," the foreign secretary said.
The India-US dialogue and engagement across sectors have remained regular, vibrant and productive, he noted. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's regular dialogue with US President Joe Biden and his visit to the US in September was the highlight of the bilateral agenda this year, Shringla said.
"Prime Minister Modi also participated in important summits hosted by President Biden, including the Leaders' Summit on Climate, Global Covid Summit, Global Summit on Supply Chain Resilience, Build Back Better for the World event and the Summit for Democracy," he said. Two-way investments are also growing with the US now placed as the second-largest investor in India in 2020-21, he pointed out.
India's economic reform process, such as the liberalisation of FDI in insurance, elimination of retrospective provision in income tax, are aimed at creating a conducive environment, Shringla said. Policy measures such as the production-linked incentives schemes in different sectors are providing a big push to manufacturing in India, he stressed.
"We welcome US private sector capital to support India's infrastructure needs, including through the National Infrastructure and Investment Fund. Our Finance Minister discussed and highlighted these opportunities during her visit to the US in October this year," he said. Shringla said as both India and the US are taking steps to counter the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent geoeconomic changes, there are opportunities for building resilient supply chains in several sectors.
"For instance, our strong history of collaboration in the field of public health can be leveraged for a global partnership. Given India's credentials in the pharmaceutical sector and the presence of India's pharma companies in the USA, our respective industries and governments can join hands, with the objective of delivering affordable healthcare on a global basis," he said.
"With new Covid variants, we have to be agile and ensure the development of cost-effective and safe vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. To ramp up production of these healthcare goods we need open and reliable supply chains so that we are well prepared to combat such pandemics in the future," he said.
As there is already extensive collaboration between our respective industries, if the government and private stakeholders build on the existing innovation ecosystem in defence industries for co-development and co-production, it would be of mutual benefit in the long term, he said. At the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue early next year, we hope to discuss some of these themes, Shringla said.
Recent developments have shown that critical technologies such as 5G, AI, Cyber Security, Blockchain are instrumental both for businesses and national security and efficient governance in our countries, he noted. There are growing concerns about issues of reliability and trust aspects of these technologies that need to be addressed, Shringla added.
Asserting that India and the US are two knowledge economies that are renowned for large IT and tech companies with global footprints, he said both countries are therefore natural partners for initiating and consolidating strategic corporate collaborations, which build on these strengths and complementarities.
-With PTI Inputs