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Quad nations to deepen cooperation on infrastructure

TOKYO (PTI): Four-nation grouping Quad on Tuesday agreed to deepen cooperation on infrastructure, critical to driving productivity and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, and share a commitment to addressing debt issues, which have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic in many countries.

A joint statement issued after the second in-person Quad summit attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese, said that Quad partners bring decades of skills and experience together to catalyse infrastructure delivery to the region.

The Quad leaders committed to working closely with partners and the region to drive public and private investment to bridge gaps. To achieve this, Quad will seek to extend more than US$ 50 billion of infrastructure assistance and investment in the Indo-Pacific, over the next five years.

"We will work to strengthen capacities of the countries in need to cope with debt issues under the G20 Common Framework and by promoting debt sustainability and transparency in close collaboration with finance authorities of relevant countries, including through the Quad Debt Management Resource Portal, which consists of multiple bilateral and multilateral capacity building assistance.

Briefing the media, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said the leaders when they discussed the way forward on the cooperation within the Quad as also the challenges, it was mentioned very clearly by the leaders, particularly by Prime Minister Modi that the infrastructure cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, the filling up of the gaps in the infrastructure within the region, have to be in a manner that it does not result in "unsustainable burden and unsustainable bouquet of projects" for the Indo-Pacific and for this the Quad countries need to come together.

He said that infrastructure cooperation which will flow out of the proposed US$ 50 billion in infrastructure fund will precisely address the points that the projects are sustainable, they are demand driven, they meet the specific needs of the Indo-Pacific countries.

The leaders also welcome the meeting of the development finance institutions and agencies of the four countries in the margins of the Quad meeting.

The leaders said they are working closely with experts, the region and each other to link their toolkits and expertise to better connect the Indo-Pacific.

"We will further deepen collaboration and pursue complementary actions in identified areas, such as regional and digital connectivity, clean energy, and climate resilience including disaster resilience in energy related facilities that reflect the region's priorities including ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, to contribute to sustainable and inclusive growth in the region," the leaders said in the joint statement.

In an increasingly digital world with sophisticated cyber threats, the Quad leaders recognised an urgent need to take a collective approach to enhancing cybersecurity.

To deliver on the Quad's vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific, the leaders commit to improving the defence of their nations' critical infrastructure by sharing threat information, identifying and evaluating potential risks in supply chains for digitally enabled products and services, and aligning baseline software security standards for government procurement, leveraging our collective purchasing power to improve the broader software development ecosystem so that all users can benefit.

The Quad partners will coordinate capacity building programmes in the Indo-Pacific region under the Quad Cybersecurity Partnership, and will initiate the first-ever Quad Cybersecurity Day to help individual internet users across our nations, the Indo-Pacific region, and beyond to better protect themselves from cyber threats.

Each Quad partner will endeavour to improve public access to Earth observation satellite data and applications. The member nations agreed to work together to create an Earth observation-based monitoring and sustainable development framework.

They agreed to endeavor to share space-based civil Earth observation data, along with providing a "Quad Satellite Data Portal" that aggregates links to their respective national satellite data resources.

The Quad countries will work together to develop space applications, including in the area of Earth observations, and provide capacity building support to countries in the region, including with regards to partnering on using space capabilities to respond to extreme precipitation events.

They will also consult on rules, norms, guidelines and principles for the sustainable use of space, and extend support to countries in the region through joint workshops including in relation to the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) Guidelines for the Long-Term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities.

The leaders said that the Quad remains focused on harnessing critical and emerging technologies to enhance the prosperity and security of the region.

In the area of 5G and beyond 5G, while welcoming the Prague Proposals on Telecommunications Supplier Diversity, the Quad nations will advance interoperability and security through the signature of a new Memorandum of Cooperation on 5G Supplier Diversification and Open RAN.

They also agreed to deepen engagement with industry, including through Open RAN Track 1.5 events, and exploring ways to collaborate on the deployment of open and secure telecommunications technologies in the region.

The Quad nations have mapped the Quad's capacity and vulnerabilities in global semiconductor supply chains and have decided to better leverage their complementary strengths to realise a diverse and competitive market for semiconductors.

The Common Statement of Principles on Critical Technology Supply Chains, launched on the occasion of the Quad Summit, advances cooperation on semiconductors and other critical technologies, providing a cooperative foundation for enhancing our resilience against various risks to the region.

"This cooperation will help ensure technology development in the region is guided by our shared democratic values. We continue to strengthen our horizon scanning cooperation following our deepened discussions in biotechnology through our efforts on mapping and a corresponding Track 1.5 and a future focus on quantum technologies. We will convene a business and investment forum for networking with industry partners to expand capital for critical and emerging technologies," the leaders said.

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