A new era is taking shape between UK and India, PM’s Johnson and Modi have made a commitment to bring India and UK economies, people and culture closer together over the next decade. The GoI have elevated Britain to a ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’, the first European country to receive this status.
Johnson’s ‘2030 Roadmap’ provides a framework across health, pharmaceutical and medical supply chains. It introduces the India-UK partnership on Vaccines, Therapeutics and Diagnostics, it expands the UK-India Vaccines Hub to develop distribution policy, clinical trials, regulation, research and innovation related to Covid-19, and helps to guarantee an equitable global supply by April 2022. Joint work will be focused on health security and future pandemic preparedness including through an India-UK Zoonotic Research Twinning Initiative to better understand, monitor and mitigate against future pandemics.
2030 Roadmap addresses climate and clean energy, transport and preserving nature. An Enhanced Trade Partnership with the intent to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement with a view to doubling UK-India trade over the next 10 years. New cooperation between British and Indian Universities. New collaborations for science and technology. A defence partnership with UK’s Carrier Strike Group visiting India later this year and both navies undertaking joint training exercises to enable future cooperation on operations in the Western Indian Ocean. UK’s First Sea Lord Admiral Radakin told reporters during a visit to his counterpart, US Navy Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday, in Washington DC “This amazing thing called the high seas, this global commons, which allows trade and prosperity to flourish, that exists all around the world. The Indo-Pacific is a crucial part of that. And therefore, we will look to signal our belief in the freedom of the high seas, and in a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
There is also a key role for cooperation between “UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Department of Telecoms in India to strengthen the existing India-UK Tech Partnership to tackle global challenges; realising the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and emerging technologies, the benefits of interactive data systems, and the changing use of technology to overcome the digital divide with a particular focus on the digital economy and society; cyber resilience and telecoms; health technologies; and promoting clean growth, smart urbanisation and future mobility. These discussions will inform a new ministerial level Dialogue on Technology.UK and India agreed to share knowledge and expertise regarding artificial intelligence, scientific support to policies and regulatory aspects including ethics, and promote a dialogue in research and innovation. Through Tech Summits, bring together tech innovators, scientists, entrepreneurs and policy makers to work together on challenges including the norms and governance of future tech under the cross cutting theme of ‘data’.”
It also was UK’s turn to host the latest G7-D10 Summit in London, essentially to underscore democracy, freedoms and the rules-based international order, and with partner countries to devise a global strategic cooperation to counter the pandemic and future, technological threats and the effects of climate change.
G7 committed to measures on media freedom, Internet shutdowns, cyber governance, freedom of religion or belief, the Rapid Response Mechanism, arbitrary detention and looked forward to Leader-level discussions on Open Societies with Australia, India, the Republic of Korea and South Africa at the G7 Summit in June at Carbis Bay.
The Group welcomed Australia, India, the Republic of Korea and South Africa as guests countries to take forward shared priorities ahead in the G7 Leaders’ Summit in June; significantly the involvement of the Chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and support for the centrality of ASEAN and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific was considered vital. The lead commitment was strengthened G7-Africa partnerships and greater engagement in the Indo-Pacific. African Foreign Ministers will participate at the second G7 Foreign and Development Ministers’ meeting later this year. And it is worthwhile noting that Dominic Raab’s visit to Indonesia has brought that archipelago into the loop, in late April UK and Indonesia announced the creation of a new joint trade dialogue. Indonesia is a key partner for the UK, as a fellow member of the G20 and the largest economy in South East Asia.
G7 urged China to participate constructively in the rules-based international system, concerns were documented about human rights in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong. China is encouraged to uphold its commitments to act responsibly in cyber space, including refraining from conducting or supporting cyber-enabled intellectual property theft. Taiwan’s meaningful participation in World Health Organisation forums and the World Health Assembly was supported. G7 remain concerned about the situation in and around the East and South China Seas and the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. Maritime security and promoting a cooperative system of international governance for the ocean and seas received a commitment. In the Non-proliferation and Disarmament paragraph G7 urge all states to counter the threat of disease being used as a weapon, and commended the G7-led Global Partnership (GP) of 31 states, which supports vulnerable countries around the world to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, to prevent the proliferation of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons (CBRN) and related materials.
The situation in Myanmar was utterly condemned and in a striking move G7 confirmed readiness to take further steps if the military junta does not reverse its course, committing to continuing to prevent the supply, sale or transfer of all weapons, munitions, and other military-related equipment to Myanmar and the supply of technical cooperation.
The Joint Communiqué described Russia’s behaviour as irresponsible and threatening, it regretted Russia’s deteriorating relationship with western countries and it sought a stable and predictable relations with Russia. G7 called for Russia to unblock the Kerch Strait which is preventing access to Ukraine’s ports. Human rights and the systematic crackdown on opposition voices in Russia and Belarus were denounced. The security, economic recovery and European perspective of the six Western Balkans countries (Albania, North Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina) was reaffirmed as a crucial investment for peace and stability.
The Communiqué makes two references to biological weapons and four references to chemical weapons, for the non- proliferation and disarmament thereof, in the context Novichok, Nalvalny, DPRK and Syria.
Japan Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi enjoyed a very busy time, since being referred to as one of UK’s closest partners in the Integrated Review the UK-Japan relationship has picked up. Motegi said that the British aircraft carrier strike group mission to the Indo-Pacific symbolises UK’s commitment to the region. After meeting with Foreign secretary Dominic Raab, Motegi met with the FM’s of the Republic of Korea, France, US, Germany, and EU’s Foreign Policy Chief; Motegi welcomed Berlin’s decision to send a Frigate to the IPR.
The British press rudely went into overdrive following EAM Jaishankar’s tweet that he was self-isolating as two junior delegates from India had tested positive for Covid-19. Boris Johnson confirmed that all proper Covid-19 protocols were followed and that the business of government must go on. The PM and Raab took time out from side meetings to Zoom Jaishankar and enquire how he was feeling.
As an aside this reporter is going to mention the global need for rare earths, and how geopolitical tensions could interfere with a vulnerable supply as China controls a large % of the market. This market is set to boom as green industries develop. In 2020 the Prime Minister instructed civil servants to draw up plans for ‘Project Defend’ – a strategy for protecting national security after the pandemic, which includes the supplies of cobalt, nickel and lithium necessary for Britain’s renewable future. On Thursday the International Energy Agency (IEA) emphasised the need for government action to ensure reliable, sustainable supplies of elements vital for electric vehicles, power grids, wind turbines and other key technologies and advised Western governments to build up supplies. UK may have plans to stockpile lithium carbonate, which in January 2021 has been produced for the first time in Cornwall, the location for the G7-D10 Summit in June.
The Hartlepool by-election result is a triumph for Conservatives, for the first time since the constituency was established the Tories have won by 23%, which is a 16% gain from Labour and a bullseye for Boris Johnson. The Scottish Parliamentary Election and the London Mayor election results are due over the weekend.