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Without economic, trade co-operation, Quad will not be robust

Economic and trade co-operation will play a vital role in cementing the Quad and making it robust. As the fruitful Quad meeting between India, Australia, US and Japan in Tokyo focused on territorial sovereignty in the wake of an aggressive China, analysts said that economy and trade cannot be divorced from military and security co-operation.

To strengthen the Quad, a holistic approach which includes economy and expansion of trade is critical, said an analyst who doesn’t want to be quoted.

The Quad throws up opportunities for the Narendra Modi government to engage and open up trade with the member nations even as India decided to step out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) last year. While experts said that the outcome of the earlier free trade agreements did not reap much benefits for India, it must not shy away from inking contracts in the future.

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Earlier Sanjaya Baru, economist and once media adviser to former prime minister Manmohan Singh, wrote in The Week magazine, “A stronger, more efficient and more competitive economy would facilitate more effective diplomacy. The era when good speeches and clever posturing made up for poor economic performance was over.”

While the Quad assembly, the first major in-person meeting since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, focused on territorial issues and the ways to deal with the outcomes of the pandemic, sources said that it will be critical to touch upon key economic and trade issues.

India has to realize that restricting trade with other countries cannot solve the existing problems of the manufacturers in India.

“Security, in today’s context, is not just defence. It encompasses economy and trade. Every security decision is intertwined with economic aspect. To ensure that the bloc works closely, trade aspects have to be come in as security cannot be treated in isolation anymore,” Nirupama Soundararajan, Pahle India Foundation’s (PIF) senior fellow and head of research, told IndiaNarrative.com.

She added that economic and trade glitches between India and China too came into the fore only after the Galwan clash.

The timing of the meeting is critical as it sends a clear message to the world and particularly China, which has gone on a military and economic offensive with several countries including India and Australia.

Swadeshi Jagran Manch’s (SJM) national co-convener Ashwani Mahajan, however, said that the Quad must restrict itself to the military and security co-operation. “There have been thorny trade related issues with both Australia and the US, and we must not undermine those. We welcome the Quad co-operation but we need to wait and watch before we get into the economic and trade co-operation at this juncture,” Mahajan said..