Piyush Goyal calls for building trust for trade at BRICS meeting
Goyal also stated that multilateral rules-based trading system was facing serious and grave challengesUpdated: Jul 23, 2020 23:20 IST
Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal called upon BRICS nations to enhance transparency in trade and build trust to prevent losing their role of preeminent trade partner. Goyal’s comments came during the 10th meeting of trade ministers attended by member countries -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa—on Thursday.
“It is trust and transparency which determines the sustainability of global supply chains and nations must demonstrate their compliance with global rules of trade to remain a part of global trade flow. Increasingly, nations which trust each other are coming together to build global supply chains with corresponding investments in manufacturing and services,” a commerce ministry statement said, quoting Goyal.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too, had highlighted the importance of trust in building trade relations between countries during his address at India Ideas Summit organized by the USIBC forum on Wednesday.
Referring to Covid-19 outbreak and its impact on the economy, he said trade can be an engine of reviving growth premised on strengthening of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) based on its principles of openness, fairness, transparency, inclusivity, and non-discrimination.
He called for removing multiple hurdles to accessing medicines at affordable prices created by lopsided WTO rules for protecting intellectual property. “IPRs [intellectual property rights] should not block access to critical medicines and other devices required for the treatment of disease,” he said.
Goyal said the pandemic has paradoxically provided nations a window of opportunity to add strength by building capacities, expanding manufacturing as well as by plugging into the global value chains. “As BRICS members are among the most affected countries in the world, we must collectively demonstrate a determined will to emerge stronger, while being prepared to face any such unknown crisis,” he said.
The multilateral rules-based trading system is facing serious and grave challenges, including a spate of unilateral measures and countermeasures, deadlock in key areas of negotiations and an impasse in the appellate body, the minister said.
He said the WTO reform process should take into account the existing realities in the world and should, therefore, be inclusive, balanced and consensus based, leading to prosperity for all.
“It is disheartening that we are seeing some proposals at the WTO seeking to ride on the pandemic for pursuing commercial ends. It will essentially support the quest of developed countries’ firms to have unhindered access to the markets in developing countries, while putting constraints on developing countries to establish domestic manufacturing capacities,” he said.
Describing 2020 as a turning point in the history of multilateralism, especially for the BRICS grouping, the minister said that any economic partnership must keep in mind the different size and population of each country, unequal levels of economic development and human development indicators, contrasting levels of prosperity, cultural diversity and significantly different political and judicial systems.
“We place humanity at the centre of our global engagement and thus despite being hit hard by the virus ourselves, we have not shied away from providing humanitarian relief to those who sought it,” he said. India provided critical medical supplies to around 150 countries in these troubled times.
As the ‘Pharmacy of the World’ we have catered to the spike in demand for drugs such as Hydroxychloroquine and Paracetamol being used for the treatment of Covid-19, he added.
Talking about India’s proactive role in assessing and dealing with the challenges caused by the pandemic, he said saving lives has been India’s highest priority.
“Despite being home to nearly 17% of the world population, we have only 8% of Covid-19 affected patients worldwide. Under the leadership of Hon’ble Prime minister Narendra Modi, we implemented one of the severest lockdowns at an early stage thereby breaking the coronavirus transmission chain and prepared the country to become self-reliant in covid care facilities,” he said.
“We have done significantly better than many other countries, with a lower death rate and higher recovery rate,” he added.
Speaking about the steps taken to mitigate the economic challenges posed by the pandemic and bringing the economy back on track, Goyal said the Prime Minister announced a stimulus package of over $300 billion, called ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ (Self-reliant India Initiative). He said the edifice of this mission stands on five pillars of the economy -- massive infrastructure building, technology, aspects of good governance, leveraging the demographic dividend, and promoting demand.