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While the proliferation of trade agreements in Indo-Pacific region has led to a decline in tariff rates over time, non-tariff measures act as a major trade barrier in the region, Anupriya Patel, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry said on Wednesday while speaking at the virtual 9th East Asia Summit-Economic Ministers’ Meeting, highlighting restrictive measures faced by Indian agri exporters.   

“In spite of the hitherto available scientific evidence and literature confirming that the covid-19 virus cannot survive on surfaces and food packages, the exports, especially the agri exports, of many countries, including India, faced restrictive measures on account of covid concern on the packaging," she complained.   

Patel said at a difficult time when the world is already reeling under lockdowns and supply chain disruptions, such restrictive barriers created by certain countries added to the existing vulnerabilities, which was not in the interest of the regional trade. “Facilitating exports of essential goods and food products are important for food security and wellbeing of people. India reiterates the need for fair, transparent, reciprocal and inclusive trade which promotes the interest of all," she added.  

The minister said India is willing to collaborate with East Asian partners in the production of generic drugs as well as vaccines used against covid-19. “India recognizes that the international community has a collective responsibility to work together against the covid-19 pandemic in the true spirit of partnership within existing international frameworks. In an interconnected and globalized world, no one is safe until everyone is safe. India looks forward to an early outcome on the TRIPS waiver proposal for vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. Shared prosperity is impossible without shared commitment. India’s spirit of brotherhood should give confidence to our friends that it will be their natural & most reliable ally in years to come," she added.  

Patel said while World Trade Organisation (WTO) has observed that the strong monetary and fiscal policies introduced by many governments in response to pandemic helped to sustain the global demand and trade, she cautioned that new waves of infection could easily undermine any anticipated recovery. “Global and equitable vaccine roll-out is a prerequisite for the strong and sustained global recovery.  Despite numerous challenges & constraints, India has successfully administered over 740 million vaccine doses. Various immediate supportive actions taken by India, including the milestones reached in vaccination helped us to manage the pandemic crisis. We have learnt lessons, adapted our approach and fine-tuned our systems as we went along," she said. 

India’s covid-19 vaccination coverage has crossed 760 million milestone on Wednesday. More than 5.7 million vaccine doses have been administered till 7 pm today.  

The union health ministry in a separate statement said that more than 742.5 million vaccine doses have been provided to states/UTs so far through government of India (free of cost channel) and through direct state procurement category. Further, more than 18 million doses are in the pipeline. More than 46.2 million balance and unutilized covid vaccine doses are still available with the states/UTs to be administered. 

India reported 27,176 new covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours. The active caseload is presently 3,51,087. Active cases presently constitute 1.05% of the country's total positive cases. India has so far conducted over 546 million cumulative tests. The daily positivity rate is reported to be 1.69%. 

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