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In veiled dig at China, Jaishankar bats for more production centres, says need ‘trust & transparency’

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New Delhi: In a veiled taunt at China, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar stressed Friday the importance of “de-risking” the global economy by promoting more centres of production.

In a video address for an event in Japan, Jaishankar said this would ensure a more resilient and reliable supply chain and enhance “trust and transparency” in the digital domain.

In recent years, the US and European countries have increasingly debated de-risking and decoupling from China’s economy and this March, the EU Parliament published recommendations on how to do so.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration continues to slap restrictions on Beijing, the latest being the introduction of heavy tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles and batteries.

“The supply chain challenge, over-concentrations stemming from globalisation and the use of economic coercion by states have put a premium on resilience and redundancy,” Jaishankar added at the Nikkei Asia 2024 Future of Asia Forum being held in Tokyo.

Japan, also a member of the Quad, is an important development and strategic partner for India and like New Delhi, has repeatedly batted for openness, transparency and a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific. Earlier this week, in a statement posted on X, Jaishankar reaffirmed the Quad’s commitment towards ensuring peace and security in the region, just a day after his American counterpart, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, said the four-member group has made “important strides” towards advancing this goal.

In the past, India has criticised the economic influence leveraged by certain countries from others, especially if it led to debt traps in partnerships.

Last year, as part of its G20 Presidency, India hosted two “Voice of Global South Summits” during which it underscored the need for more sustainable and viable development financing. Making a veiled reference to China and its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra had said: “Debt burden came across strongly in multiple sessions, including the leaders’, finance, foreign ministers’ sessions. The thrust of most interventions was that we are facing strong headwinds of economic challenges due to global uncertainties.”

‘Need more cooperation, coordination in Asia’

The Indian foreign minister Friday did not name the major ongoing conflicts on the international stage and their ripple effects but noted the global order was facing major challenges. Against this backdrop, “cooperation and coordination amongst countries, particularly in Asia” was critical, he said.

“India believes in moving forward through engagement and dialogue, multipolarity and reformed multilateralism. We will work with Japan and our Asian partners to realise a secure, sustainable and prosperous future of Asia,” he added.

He also emphasised the importance of national security in “economic transactions”, as both market shares and data harnessing are leveraged by various countries these days.

With elections in India underway and the Narendra Modi government eyeing a third term, Jaishankar made it clear that India sought to extend its influence in the Gulf, Middle East and Africa. He said India’s engagement with these three regions have been “intensified” in recent years.

(Edited by Tikli Basu)


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