Mumbai, August 23, 2021. A high-level task force convened by Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations – a foreign policy think tank – proposed that four leading Indo-Pacific democracies expand a security and maritime partnership to include cooperation on a range of economic and technology issues. The recommendations call on the four “Quad” countries – Australia, India, Japan and the U.S. – to work together to strengthen pharmaceutical and critical minerals supply chains, financial technology and cybersecurity systems, space and 6G technology, and undersea communications cables that form the backbone of the Internet.
The far-reaching proposals are the result of five months of deliberations by the Quad Economy and Technology Task Force, a 31-member panel of experts from the four countries and representatives of the European Union. It was led by Dr. Lisa Curtis, Senior Fellow and Director of the Indo-Pacific Security Program, Centre for New American Studies, Washington D.C., and Dr. Surjit Bhalla, Executive Director for India, International Monetary Fund.
“The onset of the pandemic underlined dependencies and vulnerabilities of the Quad nations individually and as a group,” said Manjeet Kripalani, Executive Director, Gateway House. “It brought an urgency to developing multi-stakeholder cooperation between the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (the Quad). The Task Force found commonalities in five study areas and stressed the need to increase economic and technological interdependence among the Quad countries and to establish common and updated rules and standards especially in emerging technologies.”
The Quad Task Force report recommends:
1. Speedy production, distribution and rollout of vaccines to all regions, and suggests the use of licensing agreements as a pragmatic and immediate solution to (instead of waiving Intellectual Property Rights) to accelerate the process. Common standards for new drugs can be addressed under the Quad Plus-Plus formula, must be intensified.
2. Strengthening the supply chain of rare earth and other critical minerals by creating deep financial markets for these commodities similar to those that exist for bullion and oil. The Quad nations can also create a mechanism to monitor the possible takeover of rare earth assets and critical mineral supply chains, especially by state-owned enterprises, which lead to monopolies and artificial shortages.
3. Quad nations can jointly use their significant niche capabilities in finance and technology, as well as their capital, to ensure that developing countries can access cutting-edge financial technology.
4. For undersea communications cables, which carry 95% of global data, a public-private partnership to create an independent infrastructure provider for undersea cables in the Indo-Pacific region, is suggested. The Quad and its partners must actively coordinate participation and leadership in international institutions like the International Telecommunications Union to influence Information and Communications Technology (ICT) standards-setting.
5. Establish an ICT sub-working group within the Quad’s existing Critical and Emerging Technology working group. This will enhance the standards-setting exercise. A Quad strategy for 6G technology standards must be put in place, with a democratic ethos and transparency built into its research, development and deployment – through the Quad or the D-10 grouping.
The full Quad Economy and Technology Task Force report: A Time for Concerted Action can be read at: https://www.gatewayhouse.in/quad-economy-technology-task-force-report/
About Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations
Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations is a foreign policy think tank in Mumbai, India, established to engage India’s leading corporations and individuals in debate and scholarship on India’s foreign policy and the nation’s role in global affairs. Gateway House is independent, non-partisan and membership-based working towards co-designing perspectives on global issues that are important to India with a focus to taking India from a global rule taker to rule maker.
Our key areas of study are geopolitics, geoeconomics, energy & environment, space and ocean studies, international security (maritime, cyber and digital), international law and Bombay history.
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