A 31-member panel of experts from India, the United States, Japan and Australia, along with representatives of the European Union, made the proposal after five months of deliberations. They want the Quad nations to engage multilaterally on subjects which may not remain outside the ambit of security concerns in the near future.
Experts from the four Quad countries — India, Australia, Japan and the United States — have called for the nations to expand the security and maritime partnership, to include cooperation on a range of economic and technology issues.
The Quad Economy and Technology Task Force was convened by Mumbai-based foreign policy think tank Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations, and has called for the Indo-Pacific democracies to engage multilaterally on subjects which may not remain outside the ambit of security concerns in the near future.
They have called for the nations to work together to strengthen pharmaceutical and critical mineral supply chains, financial technology and cybersecurity systems, space and 6G technology, and undersea communications cables that form the backbone of the Internet.
Officially, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) has been conceived as a space to cooperate for safeguarding shared security and other interests in the Indo-Pacific region. However, observers have pointed out that the forum’s main objective is to counter China’s military and economic rise.
The task force has called for speedy production, distribution and rollout of vaccines to all regions. But instead of waiving intellectual property rights of pharma majors, as is being espoused by India, it has suggested the use of licensing agreements as a pragmatic and immediate solution to accelerate the process. Common standards for new drugs can be addressed under the Quad Plus-Plus formula, it has said.
The supply chain of rare earth and other critical minerals can be strengthened 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
Finance & Tech
The task force also wants Quad nations to 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
For undersea communications cables, which carry 95 percent of global data, a public-private partnership to create an independent infrastructure provider for undersea cables in the Indo-Pacific region, has been 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,” Gateway House said.
It has also called for establishing 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,” it said.
“The onset of the pandemic underlined dependencies and vulnerabilities of the Quad nations individually and as a group. The Task Force 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,” said Manjeet Kripalani, Executive Director, Gateway House.
In its 2021 joint statement, Quad members have charted out a desire for a ‘shared vision for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific’, along with a ‘rules-based maritime order in the East and South China Seas’.
The Quad Task Force was led by Lisa Curtis, Senior Fellow and Director of the Indo-Pacific Security Program, Centre for New American Studies, Washington D.C., and former member of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council Surjit Bhalla, who is currently Executive Director for India at International Monetary Fund.