India will be engine of global growth after 2nd Covid wave: Jaishankar
India’s strong economic recovery after it emerges from the second wave of Covid-19 infections will be an engine of growth for the global economy, external affairs minister S Jaishankar said on Tuesday.
Jaishankar made the remarks while addressing the maiden edition of the Indo-Pacific Business Summit organised by the external affairs ministry and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) as part of efforts to drive post-pandemic economic growth.
The Indo-Pacific concept reflects the “reality of globalisation, the emergence of multi-polarity and the benefits of rebalancing”, and means the “overcoming of the Cold War and a rejection of bipolarity and dominance,” he said. It is also an expression of the collective interest in promoting global prosperity and securing the global commons, he added.
“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...will be very much a key to the better world that we all seek. The Indo-Pacific – a region in which we are so deeply invested historically – will be an arena of particular activity and energy,” he said.
Several sessions of the business summit on Tuesday were addressed by envoys of key countries, including Singapore high commissioner Simon Wong, Vietnam ambassador Pham Sahn Chau and United Arab Emirates ambassador Ahmed Al-Banna.
Jaishankar noted that the transformation of the past decade has been overshadowed by the impact of Covid-19, which disrupted 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% in 2020, compared to 2019, and the predicted trade in services declining by as much as 15.4% in the same duration...The hit taken by travel, transport and tourism activities is alarming and really moves us into unchartered territory,” he said.
Three factors – the salience of health, the power of digital, and the importance of re-building greener – will be crucial as countries chart a course towards recovery, he said.
“Covid-19 had brought out many inadequacies in the global health system and the resulting debates are taking place elsewhere. What is relevant for us here is to recognise that in every society, the expectation of our public with regard to health has gone up,” he said.
“Whether it is the next wave, the next pandemic or indeed something quite different, part of the answer lies in greater international collaboration. By that I mean the working together not just of governments, but of businesses and the medical and scientific professions,” he added.
High-speed internet, cyber security, enhanced digital literacy, regional e-commerce and efficient e-governance will become more important and the strengthening of digital connectivity within and between countries of the Indo-Pacific is essential for economic prosperity, Jaishankar said.
Collective efforts are also needed to re-define infrastructure and urbanisation, and can make agriculture more sustainable. “Physical and digital connectivity remain important for supporting shorter, efficient and diversified supply-chains, risk mitigation, enhanced trade facilitation, and reduction in the costs of intra-regional trade,” he remarked.