Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 5
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday held a virtual conference with five Ministers from Baltic countries as India continues with its drive to position itself in the centre as the world emerges from the Covid dislocation and Chinese aggression.
“Our gathering is intended to analyse the extraordinary challenges posed by the Covid pandemic and seriously examine whether the crisis can be turned into opportunity,” said Jaishankar at the interaction organised by the CII, which was also attended by select businesspersons.
The participating ministers were from Finland, Iceland, Demark, Latvia and Estonia. Some of them, from countries like Estonia, are at odds with Russia, a close Indian ally, but all are acknowledged leaders in high-end manufacturing and innovation.
One minister participated in the conference though he was in home isolation after a Cabinet colleague tested positive for Covid.
All ministers offered cooperation in fields their countries excelled in, but SAAB Chairman Marcus Wallenberg injected a note of realism by asking for an EU-India FTA as soon as possible to deepen trade linkages with the Nordic-Baltic region.
Jaishankar set out the areas where there is potential for more partnership such as renewable energy and clean technologies, factories of the future, AI and block chain-led transformation, supply chain and logistics and fin-tech.
With a greater digital focus, India will also give more attention to its infrastructure as well as data and cyber security.
Denmark Foreign Minister Jeppe Sebastian Kofod suggested wind power, water, and infrastructure; Finland FM Ville Skinnari suggested 5G technology, quantum computing and AI; and, Iceland Minister Thordis Gylfadottir highlighted converting greenhouse gases, utilising ocean resources to create nutritional supplements and medicines and gaming technology.
Latvian FM Edgars Rinkevics underlined 5G, cyber-security and R&D while Estonian FM Urmas Reinsalu touched on e-health, cyber security and 5-G.
The industry from Nordic-Baltic countries has been operating in India for many years. Astra-Zeneca, which was co-headquartered in the region is developing a vaccine for Covid along with the Serum Institute in Pune.