To counter China’s dominance in world trade, India, Japan and Australia are planning to increase the scope of their proposed supply-chain partnership to include more like-minded countries in the Indo-Pacific region.
In September this year, trade ministers of India, Japan and Australia had decided to launch an initiative later this year to achieve supply-chain efficiency in the Indo-Pacific region. Originally mooted by Japan, the move is to prevent China’s expansionist agenda across the South China sea. The objective of this tr-nation agreement is to reduce dependence on China for supply of goods and services.
The initiative, currently limited to the government-to-government level, will also involve industries as well as academia of these nations, according to senior government officials. The partnership is important, as it currently involves three major players in the Asia-Pacific region, with combined gross domestic product of $9.3 trillion and trade (both goods and services) of $3.6 trillion in 2019.
The partnership will focus on trade with the world, from raw materials to finished products in 10 key sectors. Petroleum and petrochemicals, automobiles, steel, pharmaceuticals, textiles and garments, marine products, financial services, IT services, tourism and travel services, and skill development are the 10 sectors on the priority.
“The ministers reaffirmed their determination to take a lead in delivering a free, fair, inclusive, non-discriminatory, transparent, predictable and stable trade and investment environment and in keeping their markets open,” according to a joint statement after a meeting of the ministers in September.
Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal, Japan’s minister of economy, trade and industry Hiroshi Kajiyama and Australia’s trade, tourism and industry minister Simon Birmingham had attended the virtual meeting.
Addressing the meeting, Goyal had said the initiative couldn’t have come at a more opportune time in the post-Covid scenario when “there is a likelihood of re-churning of supply chains in the Indo-Pacific region and it’s incumbent on us to take the initiative”.
Already, India, Japan and Australia make up the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, along with the US, to strengthen national security consultation.