The trade ministers of Japan, India and Australia agreed Tuesday to work toward achieving supply chain resilience in the Indo-Pacific region, following reports that the three nations are looking to work together to counter China’s dominance on trade.
The ministers instructed their officials to promptly hammer out details for an initiative to strengthen supply chains for launch later this year, according to a joint statement.
Japan’s Hiroshi Kajiyama, India’s Piyush Goyal and Australia’s Simon Birmingham attended the video conference Tuesday afternoon, the statement said. They also called on other countries in the region with shared views to participate in the initiative.
The three nations are seeking to build stronger supply chains to counter China’s dominance as trade and geopolitical tensions escalate across the region, Bloomberg reported in August, citing people in Tokyo and New Delhi with knowledge of the matter.
While China wasn’t specifically addressed during the meeting Tuesday, the three ministers did agree that ASEAN nations would be good candidates to reach out to next, according to Japan’s trade ministry.
The Tuesday conference was hosted by Japan, but the three ministers may meet again as needed while officials work toward putting the initiative together by the end of the year, the ministry said.
Japan’s Kajiyama suggested including the digitalization of trade procedures and support for capital expenditure as part of the initiative. A pre-existing scheme where Japan is supporting capex into ASEAN countries will serve as one reference point for the initiative, according to the ministry.
Along with the U.S., Japan, Australia and India make up the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, a loose grouping for national security consultation. A senior U.S. diplomat said Monday the U.S. would like to start formalizing the Quad as the base for a broader security alliance in the region and ministers of the group intend to hold an in-person meeting in New Delhi this fall.
While the three countries are in talks to finalize the supply chain agreement, India’s Goyal said the architecture for a trade deal with the U.S. is already in place and the two nations could possibly sign the pact before the U.S. elections.
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