The importance of Quad meeting amidst current geopolitical flux

Synopsis: This article explains the previous Quad summit and the performance of Working groups and suggestions to improve Quad further.

Introduction

The leaders of Australia, India, Japan, and the United States will meet for the first-ever in-person Quadrilateral (“Quad”) summit. It is especially significant as it is set against the backdrop of few important recent events.

Such as the withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan, the formation of the AUKUS security alliance and following the release of the European Union’s Indo-Pacific strategy.

About the Development of Quad
Must Read: Quad Summit and its relevance – Explained, Pointwise

The four nations are vibrant democracies and open economies. Three are developed countries and one is an emerging market.

About the previous meeting and its outcome

The Quad leaders met formally but virtually for the first time in March this year, and the joint statement captured the “spirit of the Quad”, stressing democratic values while pledging to strengthen cooperation on the “defining challenges” of the times. Working groups were set up on vaccines, critical and emerging technologies, and climate action.

Read more: “3rd Quad meeting” Focussed on rules-based world order
What is the progress of working groups?

The Working groups (WG) fulfilling the past commitments of Quad countries. For instance,

Progress of WG on Vaccines: The joint vaccine production programme seems to be on track and their distribution first to needy Indo-Pacific countries will begin in early 2022.

Progress of WG on emerging and critical technologies: This group is reporting progress. A principal endeavour of this WG is to leverage the Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN) to derive benefits of interoperability of the 5G technologies offered by different vendors in the west.

Progress of WG on Climate Change: Cooperation on multiple dimensions of the climate challenge is proposed, including finance, emissions reduction, technology and capacity-building.

However, some key issues remain unresolved within this group as India, being a developing nation, is unable to show “more ambitions” regarding its climate goals. But efforts are underway to finalise technology-sharing and other cooperation to meet the challenges of climate change.

What is the significance of Quad for India?

For India, each of the other three countries is a strategic partner, and bilateral and multilateral initiatives have been taken across multiple areas in different fora with each. The Quad syncs with India’s other regional programmes such as the Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative and the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI).

What the Quad should focus upon?

Devise a matching strategy against China: With the China challenge now recognised as being both multi-faceted and long-term, the Quad needs to devise a matching strategy.

So, the Quad should consider practical recommendations like, ‘The Quad Economy & Technology Task Force Report: A Time for Concerted Action’ crafted by international experts and published by think tank Gateway House.

Strengthen the economic partnership further: To advance their goals for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific, the Quad must activate business partnerships. This can be done in the following ways.

Joint efforts can be made by all Quad countries to establish alternative manufacturing hubs. This will not only aid SCRI but also make regional supply chains more diversified.

The Quad could consider adding a trade ministers’ interaction to its agenda which may engage in lowering trade barriers and boosting trade linkages

Ensure Quality infrastructure investment: Innovative financing and public-private partnership models between Quad nations can enlarge the space for private industry and support public funds in the endeavour.

India should be cautious: India’s has to consider the initiatives of Quad with a strategic perspective as it is the only Quad power with land borders with China and have proximity to Afghanistan.

Source: This post is based on the following articles

  • Improving the economic game” published in The Hindu on 23rd September 2021.
  • The importance of Quad meeting amidst current geopolitical flux” published in Indian Express on 23rd September 2021.
  • Understanding the American enthusiasm for the Quad” published in Indian Express on 23rd September 2021.
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