India is willing to collaborate with the 10-member ASEAN bloc to produce generic drugs and medical technologies used for the treatment of COVID-19 patients, Union Commerce and Industry minister Piyush Goyal has said. "India is privileged to be able to serve the world by producing 70 per cent of the global vaccines and being trusted as the pharmacy of the world", he added.
Addressing the 8th East Asia Summit Economic Ministers' Meeting (EAS-EMM) through a video conference on August 28, Goyal welcomed the initiatives of ASEAN to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and the establishment of the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund. The member countries of ASEAN are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Goyal said that 'Acting East' is now a central element in India's Indo-Pacific vision. "India wants to see a strong, unified and prosperous ASEAN playing a central role in the emerging dynamics of the Indo-Pacific as it contributes to India's prosperity and security as well. We see a great deal of convergence between India's vision for the Indo-pacific and the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific," he said.
In addition to India and ASEAN, economic Ministers from Australia, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the Russian Federation and the United States were part of virtual EAS-EMM conference.
Goyal also called for the restoration of the functionality of the appellate dispute resolution body of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and expressed India's willingness to partner with all countries to ensure fair, transparent and balanced trading systems, and to enhance connectivity, for national, regional and global economic growth.
"India supports the reform of the WTO while preserving the centrality, core values and fundamental principles of the WTO, including special and differential treatment for the developing countries", he said.
Later, a joint statement signed by all the 18 participating economic ministers acknowledged that the COVID-19 global pandemic has created unprecedented challenges that have caused not only loss of lives but also economic downturn for most countries around the world. The ministers underscored the importance of further strengthening regional economic cooperation, and resolved to take actions aimed at mitigating the economic impact of the pandemic on global and regional trade and investment, ensuring macroeconomic and financial stability and restoring business confidence in the region, the joint statement said. The EAS-EMM meet also underscored the importance of strengthening regional supply chains to make them resilient and less vulnerable to shocks and to advance sustainable economic growth. "The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to promote trade and investment, minimize disruptions to trade and global supply chains and facilitate supply chain connectivity, including for essential goods such as medical supplies, medicines, including vaccines, food, commodities and other essential supplies and services in the region", the joint statement said.
The ministers also welcomed the increasing trade and strong investment performance among the EAS economies, with the combined nominal GDP reaching $ 51.6 trillion in 2019, an increase by 4.1 per cent from the previous year. The ASEAN merchandise trade with non-ASEAN EAS participating countries amounted to $ 1.3 trillion in 2019, accounting for 48.1 per cent of ASEAN's total trade while Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) reached to $ 61.2 billion, representing 38.1 per cent of ASEAN's total FDI inflows, signifying the importance of the economic engagement between EAS participating nations.
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