Jaishankar discusses Covid relief, trade and economy ahead of talks with Austin and Blinken Friday

New Delhi : External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar discussed India-US healthcare partnership to address the Covid challenge, and two-way trade, technolgy and business collaboration ahead of his talks with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Llyod Austin on Friday.

After a meeting with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai on Thursday, the EAM said he had a “good discussion” and that she had a “positive stance on IPR issues & support for efficient & robust supply chains.”

“Our trade, technology and business cooperation are at the core of our strategic partnership. Enhancing them is vital to post-Covid economic recovery,” Jaishankar said in a tweet.

Jaishankar’s talks with Ambassador Tai comes just days ahead of the WTO General Council meeting in Geneva that would consider the revised India-South Africa proposal for a temporary patent relief to ensure access of vaccines and therapeutics, especially to developing countries.

The USTR had recently announced the US support to the proposal, but only Covid vaccine.

Jaishankar emphasized that a stronger India-US health partnership can be a powerful force to fight the global pandemic.

In a meeting with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, he conveyed appreciation for US solidarity in addressing the Covid challenge and said that India-US vaccine partnership can make a real difference.

Vaccine production and building resilient supply chain also figured high Jaishankar’s meetings with US corporate honchos, as the country wrestles with a second wave of the pandemic and is trying to secure economic recovery.

The EAM and Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu had “wide-ranging discussion on India’s fight against COVID19, US-India commercial & strategic ties, economic recovery & the broader geopolitics of the region” with members of the USISPF, the USIBC, and US Global Task Force on Pandemic Relief, a consortium of American companies.

He appreciated the US private sector’s swift response in India’s fight against the pandemic.

The EAM emphasized India’s focus on healthcare partnerships and the importance of India US collaborations, which would strengthen supply chains for vaccine and essential medicines production in India. “EAM highlighted that the presence and support of CEOs from a wide range of sectors demonstrates the extraordinary strength of the India US partnership,” the Indian embassy said in a tweet.

Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal in February said that India will engage with the Biden administration to put together a fresh bilateral trade deal separate from what had been negotiated so far with the previous Trump regime.