At a time when the COVID-19 crisis is taking a deep toll on economic activities across sectors, India on Tuesday (April 28) told the five-nation bloc BRICS that it is important to provide support to businesses, especially MSMEs, to ensure livelihoods are not lost.
At a video conference of BRICS foreign ministers, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said the bloc has an important role to play in shaping the global economic and political architecture. He also noted that the pandemic and its subsequent challenges highlighted the need for reform of the multilateral systems.
The foreign minister further emphasised that the pandemic is not only posing a great risk to the health and wellbeing of humanity but is also severely impacting global economy and output by disruption of global trade and supply chains, said the Ministry of External Affairs in a release.
“Economic activity across sectors has been negatively impacted leading to loss of jobs and livelihoods. He emphasised that we need to provide support to businesses, especially MSMEs, to tide over the crisis and ensure livelihoods are not lost,” the release said.
The Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) represents over 3.6 billion people, or half of the world population and has a combined GDP of $16.6 trillion. All the BRICS member nations are reeling under the pandemic.
This video conference was convened in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and the discussions primarily focused on ways to deal with the crisis, its impact and the possible response by the grouping. It also discussed the activities to be undertaken under Russian BRICS Chairmanship in 2020.
It was chaired by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Besides Jaishankar, the conference was attended by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo and South Africa’s Minister for International Cooperation Grace Naledi Pandor.
The MEA release further said that Jaishankar also pointed out that the efficacy of traditional medicine systems to strengthen immunity must be recognised and that BRICS should support these efforts.
The MEA said the minister emphasised that the “current challenge underlines all the more the need for reform of multilateral systems and that reformed multilateralism was the way forward. He referred to the centrality of development and growth in the global agenda.”
He also highlighted the initiatives and various “decisive steps” taken early by India in the wake of the pandemic including through Aarogya Setu Citizen App and Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package, according to the MEA.
“He highlighted that much before the outbreak was declared a public health emergency of international concern by WHO, India instituted measures to check coronavirus,” the MEA said.
Jaishankar apprised the BRICS foreign ministers about India’s initiative to coordinate efforts to contain COVID-19 in South Asia, and creation of COVID-19 emergency response fund by the SAARC countries.
“India is providing pharma assistance to nearly 85 nations, including many countries in Africa, on a grant basis, to support their response to the pandemic. This has been widely welcomed,” the MEA said.
(With inputs from agencies)