Jaishankar advocates building resilient global supply chains at Indian Ocean Conference

Addressing the global challenge of supply-side risks, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar emphasized the need for establishing dependable and resilient supply chains during his speech at the seventh Indian Ocean Conference 2024 in Perth, Australia, on Friday. Highlighting the vulnerabilities in China’s supply chain, which is integral to the extraction and processing of critical raw minerals for various industries, Jaishankar noted the impact of the pandemic, the ongoing trade tensions with the US, and geopolitical instability on China’s supply chain.

He underscored that countries in the Indian Ocean region face two options: either to pursue a strategy of ‘collective self-alliance’ or continue being ‘vulnerable’ as they have been in the past.

Addressing the summit, Jaishankar said, “Over-concentrations of manufacturing and technology are creating both supply-side risks, as well as the possibility of leveraging. The need of the day is to disperse production across more geographies and build reliable and resilient supply chains. The digital era and the emergence of artificial intelligence have, in parallel, put a premium on trust and transparency.”

“Our very concept of security has undergone a metamorphosis into a volatile and uncertain existence. As a result, nations of the Indian Ocean today need to reflect on whether they should pursue more collective self-alliance or remain as vulnerable as in the past,” he added.

Further, the EAM highlighted that the Indian Ocean has a set of mechanisms in this direction that have evolved with time.

“They include the Indian Ocean Rim Association, the Indian Ocean Commission, the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium, the Colombo Security Conclave, etc. As the concept of Indo-Pacific took root, initiatives like the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, and the Indo-Pacific Maritime Domain Awareness Initiative emerged, amongst others. Many of us present here today are members of some of them or all of them.

Emphasising the challenges faced by the Indian Ocean, Jaishankar pointed out the issues of threats to maritime traffic, issues like piracy and terrorism and concerns about freedom of navigation and overflights.

“The theme of the 7th Conference is ‘Towards a Stable and Sustainable Indian Ocean’. These two adjectives are laden with much meaning in such turbulent times. As we gaze at the Indian Ocean, the challenges besetting the world are on full display there,” the EAM said.

He added, “At one extremity, we see conflict, threats to maritime traffic, piracy and terrorism. At the other, there are challenges to international law, concerns about freedom of navigation and overflights, and of safeguarding of sovereignty and of independence.”

He also highlighted the issues arising out of climate change and natural disasters and called for showing resilience.

“Our concerns today also extend to grey areas of various kinds. Disruptive events are occurring with greater frequency and deeper impact, forcing us all to factor them into our calculus of resilience. There are also the consequences of distant happenings, such as the fuel, food and fertilizer crises that many of us have experienced,” he added.

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