Home/ News / India/  India believes trust will determine sustainability of global trade post-pandemic

NEW DELHI: Trust and transparency will determine the sustainability of global trade seen as a driver of economic recovery in a pandemic ravaged world, India said on Monday, urging nations to demonstrate their compliance with multilateral trading rules.

In his speech to the China and Russia led Shanghai Cooperation Organisation(SCO)’s Heads of Government meeting hosted by New Delhi, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu said economic growth could only happen in an environment of peace and security, highlighting the dangers of terrorism including cross border terrorism.

This is the first time that New Delhi is hosting an SCO showcase event. India and Pakistan joined the SCO as full members in 2017. The prime ministers of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan attended the 19th meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of Government (CHG) while Pakistan will be represented by its parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs. The focus of the annual event is on trade and economic cooperation. India took over the year long chairmanship of the Council of Heads of Government in November last year.

In the run-up to Monday’s meeting, India has established three new pillars of cooperation – start ups and innovation, science and technology and traditional medicine, Secretary, West, in the Indian foreign ministry Vikas Swarup told reporters. “With the successful conclusion of its chairmanship of the SCO’s CHG, India hopes to further strengthen greater trade, economic and cultural cooperation within SCO by putting human beings at the centre of SCO activities and to foster greater peace and prosperity in the region," he said. The issues that came up for discussion included the covid-19 pandemic, ways to boost economic cooperation and connectivity and energy, Swarup said. There was however no discussion on resilient supply chains, seen as a means for countries to be economically less dependent on China in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic.

The SCO, seen as a counterweight to NATO, has emerged as one of the largest trans-regional international organisations.

In his speech, Naidu also pointed out that the sociopolitical impact of covid19 had “exposed the weakness of global institutions."

“This is the time to bring in much needed reforms to our global institutions, including WHO (World Health Organisation), and rework our development strategies to face a post-covid-19 world. For this, we need a “reformed multilateralism" that reflects today's realities, gives voice to all stakeholders, addresses contemporary challenges and puts human beings at the center of our thought and policies," the vice president said.

“Reformed multilateralism" ie one that revamps institutions built up after the World War II like the UN Security Council has been a theme India has been consistently raising for some years now. New Delhi’s view is that such institutions no longer reflect current realities ie the shift of the economic centre of gravity to Asia and the rise of countries like India which has been playing an increasing role in global affairs.

Naidu in his remarks noted that while the pandemic had spurred countries to focus on self reliance, “we must underscore the importance of collective efforts to overcome this situation."

“Our hope is pinned on trade and investment as an engine of reviving growth and driver of economic recovery. For trade to play its part in the recovery process, all the partners must be trustworthy and transparent. It is trust and transparency that determine the sustainability of global trade and nations must demonstrate their compliance with multilateral rules of trade to remain a part of this system," he said. This could be a reference to countries like the US under the current presidency of Donald Trump threatening to walk out of the World Trade Organisation. India has been of view that while these institutions are archaic, they need to be reformed not completely dispensed with.

Emphasizing the importance of peace for economic growth and trade, the vice president said: “We remain concerned about threats emerging from ungoverned spaces and are particularly concerned about States that leverage terrorism as an instrument of state policy. Such an approach is entirely against the spirit and ideals and the Charter of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization" – comments seen as a swipe against Pakistan.

“We consider the SCO as an important regional group to promote cooperation in various fields based on universally recognized international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality," he said as he slammed previous attempts by Pakistan to refer to the Kashmir dispute with India at the SCO fora.

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Updated: 30 Nov 2020, 06:59 PM IST
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