India keen to collaborate with East Asian nations to produce generic drugs, vax: Anupriya Patel

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India is willing to collaborate with East Asian partners in the production of generic drugs and medical technologies used for treatment of Covid-19 patients, as also in the area of vaccines production,minister of state for commerce and industryAnupriya Patel said on Wednesday.

She also said that the abundance of trade agreements in Indo-Pacific has led to a decline in tariff rates over time but non-tariff measures act as a major trade barrier in the region.

“India is willing to collaborate with East Asian partners in the production of generic drugs and medical technologies used for treatment of Covid-19 patients, as also in the area of vaccines production,” Patel said, adding that 70% of the global vaccines are produced in India and our capacity to produce quality medicines and vaccines at affordable prices are globally recognised.

Patel was speaking at the 9th East Asia Summit-Economic Ministers’ Meeting on via webinar.

Emphasising that in an interconnected and globalized world, she said no one is safe until everyone is safe.

“India looks forward to an early outcome on the TRIPS Waiver proposal for vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. Shared prosperity is impossible without shared commitment,” Patel said, adding that global and equitable vaccine roll-out is a prerequisite for the strong and sustained global recovery.

India and South Africa last year submitted the first proposal, suggesting a waiver for all WTO members on the implementation of certain provisions of the TRIPS or Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement in relation to the prevention, containment or treatment of Covid-19. In May this year, they submitted a revised proposal that was submitted by 62 members.

Non-tariff barriers

On the issue of non-tariff barriers, she said despite available scientific evidence and literature confirming that the Covid-19 virus cannot survive on surfaces and food packages, the exports, especially the agri exports, of many countries, including India, faced restrictive measures on account of Covid concern on the packaging.

“At a difficult time when the world is already reeling under lockdowns and supply chain disruptions, such restrictive barriers created by certain countries added to the existing vulnerabilities, which was not in the interest of the regional trade,” Patel said.

Reiterating the need for fair, transparent, reciprocal and inclusive trade which promotes the interest of all, the ministers said that facilitating exports of essential goods and food products are important for food security and wellbeing of people.

Noting that the emergence of AI-based innovations in future is inevitable, she mentioned the need to acknowledge the challenges of data protection and cyber security arising from the unprecedented growth of AI technologies.

Jewellery exports

At a separate event, Patel said that introduction of reforms for the gems and jewellery industry such as revamped gold monetisation scheme, reduction in import duty of gold, and hallmarking would help push its growth rate and achieve $43.75 billion exports target for this fiscal year.

Gems and jewellery sector contributes about 7% to GDP and 10-12% to the country’s total merchandise exports.

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