In June 2018, while addressing the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Shri Narendra Modi, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India outlined India’s vision for the Indo-Pacific. He stated that it stands for a free, open, inclusive region, which embraces us all in a common pursuit of progress and prosperity. He clearly indicated the geographical reach of India’s idea of the Indo-Pacific, embracing Africa and extending to the Americas, which covers both the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
The core of his vision was that of developing international strategic, economic and developmental partnerships with a single cohesive intent across the region. Trade and connectivity emerged as central pillars of India’s engagement in the two-ocean strategy.
The COVID-19 pandemic clearly demonstrated that concentration of the world’s supply chains is globalisation’s weakest link. Countries in the Indo Pacific Region are key players in instituting alternate supply chain hubs which will require greater attention to their collaborations in international and inter-regional trade. In turn, this would translate into stronger infrastructure,connectivity and technology linkages among the different countries of the region.
Another outcome of the pandemic is the accelerated emergence of defining trends in the world industry space. The healthcare sector, where India has assumed a lead role through its ‘vaccine diplomacy’, is a new priority area and countries are looking for reliable sources for drugs and medical equipment as well as medical value travel. The digital economy has risen faster than expected and digital connectivity will be a potent force for the region. Sustainable development is yet another area that is receiving higher attention from policymakers and businesses of the region.
Businesses of the region are observing the geostrategic moves of nations regarding the region and believe that these would lead into a new world of opportunities. Infrastructure and projects, trade in goods and services, inward and outward investments, sectoral connects and technology would be key aspects of the overall vision of the Indo-Pacific.
Across all these areas, India’s brand image is strengthening sharply. Its historical and cultural connect in the region sets a strong foundation for closer bilateral, plurilateral and multilateral new initiatives that would converge with the idea of a free, open and inclusive region and with the strategies that other countries in the region are contemplating. In the consolidating construct of the Indo Pacific, the role of Indian business promises to be deep and constructive.
At the same time, businesses can contribute better to the vision with the right facilitative and enabling environment. This again would emanate from dialogues between governments and businesses and among the business sections themselves. In this context, a strong industry platform for creating a conducive economic climate and deepening business linkages is the need of the hour.
CII has a historical and close interaction with all the sub-regions that make up the Indo Pacific. Its footprint includes offices in Singapore, Indonesia, Australia and the US as well as numerous cooperation agreements with like-minded industry bodies across the region. Its interventions through the various strategic dialogue platforms and CEO forums are extensive and help to drive bilateral industry cooperation.
Given its extensive network, CII is setting the agenda through the Indo-Pacific Business Summit on a virtual platform that will enable prominent countries in the Indo Pacific region to participate.