Trade ministers of Australia, India and Japan on Tuesday shared their intention to work towards the launch of a new initiative for enhancing regional cooperation in supply chain resilience in the Indo-Pacific region. The issue was discussed during the meeting of Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal, Australia's Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham, and Japan's Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Kajiyama Hiroshi through video-conferencing.
The leaders instructed their officials to promptly work out the details of the new initiative for its launch later this year. In light of the COVID-19 crisis and the recent global-scale changes in the economic and technological landscape, they underscored the necessity and potential to enhance the resiliency of supply chains in the Indo-Pacific region.
"Recognising the pressing need for regional cooperation on supply chain resilience in the Indo-Pacific, the ministers shared their intention to work toward the launch of a new initiative to achieve the objective through cooperation," the commerce and industry ministry said in a statement. They noted the important role of business and academia in realising the objective, and called for other countries in the region to participate in the initiative.
Addressing the trilateral meeting, Goyal said the initiative could not have come at a more opportune time in the post COVID-19 scenario when there is a likelihood of "re-churning of supply chains" in the Indo-Pacific region. "India wholeheartedly endorses the broad concept of working towards ensuring a trustworthy, dependable and reliable supply chain in the Indo-Pacific region. The diversification of supply chain is critical for managing the risks associated with supply of inputs including disciplining price volatility," the statement said quoting Goyal.
For this, he said the countries may need to identify the manufacturing and services sectors that contribute most to the domestic value addition in the region. "We support the need for specific activities listed for enhancing the resilience of the supply chains which include those related to promotion and facilitating trade and investment as well as diversification of production base," he added.
On trade with Japan, Goyal said that with Japan, it is seen that in many specific products, "despite our global exports and Japanese global imports being high with zero preferential tariffs, the procurement from India was limited". This cuts across many sectors such as steel, marine products, processed agriculture, agro-chemicals, plastics, carpets, clothing and footwear, he added.
He expressed the hope that the proposed initiative must clearly try to bridge this and work towards enhancing mutual trade.