Economic and trade ministers of 18 countries, including India, the US, and China, at the East Asia Summit agreed that trade restrictive measures taken to address the impact of coronavirus pandemic must be transparent and temporary, according to a statement.
The ministers also emphasised that trade measures in view of COVID-19 should not create unnecessary barriers or disruptions in the global and regional supply chains, the statement released after the eighth East Asia Summit Economic Ministers' Meeting (EAS-EMM), held virtually on August 28, said.
Economic ministers from 10 ASEAN-member countries, Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Russia and the US took part in the meeting.
Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal participated in the deliberations.
According to the joint statement, the ministers recognised the importance of facilitating essential movement of people across borders, without undermining each country's efforts to prevent the spread of the virus, to stabilise the trade and investment.
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"The ministers agreed that any trade restrictive emergency measures put in place to address the impact of COVID-19 must be targeted, proportionate, transparent, temporary, consistent with WTO (World Trade Organisation) rules and do not create unnecessary barriers to trade or disruption of global and regional supply chains," it said.
It added that the participating countries exchanged views on how to accelerate economic growth, maintain supply chains and market stability, and strengthen the economic resilience of the EAS region post COVID-19 pandemic.
They also discussed the importance of harnessing the opportunities of digital economy.
"The ministers reiterated their support for the necessary reform of the WTO. The ministers will continue to work together to realize a free, fair, transparent, non-discriminatory, predictable, and stable trade environment, and affirmed the importance of agreed upon rules in the WTO, which can enhance market predictability and business confidence," it added.
India and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) are key trading partners. They have implemented a free trade agreement to boost bilateral commerce.
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