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In a move to counter China’s dominance of supply chain in the Indo-Pacific region, trade ministers of India, Japan and Australia on Tuesday formally launched the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI) in a virtual trilateral ministerial meeting.

“The SCRI aims to create a virtuous cycle of enhancing supply chain resilience with a view to eventually attaining strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth in the region. The ministers consented that expansion of the SCRI may be considered based on consensus, if needed, in due course," the three trade ministers said in a joint statement.

In 2019, the cumulative GDP of the three countries was $9.3 trillion, while cumulative merchandise goods and services trade were $2.7 trillion and $900 billion, respectively.

The meeting held by videoconference was attended by India’s trade minister Piyush Goyal, Australia’s minister for trade, tourism and investment Dan Tehan and Japan’s minister of economy, trade and industry Kajiyama Hiroshi.

They had first met in September to explore the possibility of a supply chain initiative.

“Based on the high-level consultations among Australia, India and Japan since September, the ministers noted the importance of risk management and continuity plans in order to avoid supply chain disruptions and affirmed their commitment to strengthen resilient supply chains. Possible policy measures may include: (i) supporting the enhanced utilization of digital technology; and (ii) supporting trade and investment diversification," said the joint statement by the ministers.

Initially, SCRI will focus on sharing best practices on supply chain resilience and holding investment promotion events and buyer-seller matching events to provide opportunities for stakeholders to explore the possibility of diversification of their supply chains. The ministers instructed officials to implement the initial projects and further develop the initiative.

The ministers decided to convene at least once a year to provide guidance to the implementation of the SCRI as well as to consult on how to develop the initiative.

The ministers acknowledged that the covid-19 pandemic was having an unprecedented impact in terms of lives lost, livelihoods and economies affected and that the pandemic had revealed supply chain vulnerabilities globally and in the region.

“The ministers noted that some supply chains have been left vulnerable due to a range of factors," the statement said.

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