Washington, The Quad countries of India, US, Australia and Japan, announced the setting up of several key task force groups to coordinate action on vaccines, on infrastructure, green shipping, climate action, on technical standards, cyber security, among others, as part of ambitious initiatives to deepen ties and take forward cooperation on 21st-century challenges.
An exhaustive Fact Sheet issued by the Quad countries after the first in-person summit of their leaders, elaborated on the new initiatives.

Recognizing that the most immediate threat to lives and livelihoods in the four countries and the world is the COVID-19 pandemic, it said the Quad Vaccine Experts Group remains the heart of the cooperation, and meets regularly to brief on the latest pandemic trends and coordinate responses across the Indo-Pacific.

It stressed that their Vaccine Partnership remains on track to expand manufacturing at Indian pharma major Biological E Ltd. this fall, so that it can produce at least 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2022.
“As a first step towards that new capacity, the leaders will announce bold actions that will immediately help the Indo-Pacific in its quest to end the pandemic. We recognize the importance of open and secure supply chains for vaccine production.”
“The Quad welcomed India’s announcement to resume exports of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, including to COVAX, beginning in October 2021.
Stressing that the Quad is committed to taking further action in the Indo-Pacific to save lives now, it said Japan, through Japan Bank for International Cooperation, will work with India to enhance key investments of approximately $100 million in the healthcare sector related to COVID-19, including vaccine and treatment drugs. As part of this, the Quad Vaccine Experts Group will convene as needed to urgently consult in relation to our emergency assistance.
The Quad countries will jointly build and conduct at least one pandemic preparedness tabletop or exercise in 2022. They will also strengthen their science and technology cooperation in support of the 100-Day Mission—to have safe and effective vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics available within 100 days—now and into the future. This will include collaboration on current and future clinical trials. The Quad will support the call for a “global pandemic radar” and improve the viral genomic surveillance. On infrastructure, it said the Quad will rally expertise, capacity, and influence to strengthen ongoing infrastructure initiatives in the region and identify new opportunities to meet the needs there. It announced the launch of the Quad Infrastructure Coordination Group, in a likely rival to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

It said a senior Quad infrastructure coordination group will meet regularly to share assessments of regional infrastructure needs and coordinate respective approaches to deliver transparent, high-standards infrastructure, in the field of rural development, health infrastructure, water supply and sanitation, renewable power generation (wind, solar, and hydro), telecommunications, road transportation, and more. The group will also coordinate technical assistance and capacity-building efforts, including with regional partners, to ensure the efforts are mutually reinforcing and complementary in meeting the significant infrastructure demand in the Indo-Pacific. On climate action, the Quad countries committed to pursuing enhanced actions in the 2020s to meet anticipated energy demand and decarbonize at pace and scale to keep our climate goals within reach in the Indo-Pacific. Towards this, the Quad announced a Green-Shipping Network. As part of this, the Quad partners will organize their work by launching a Quad Shipping Taskforce and will invite leading ports, including Los Angeles, Mumbai Port Trust, Sydney (Botany), and Yokohama, to form a network dedicated to greening and decarbonizing the shipping value chain. The Quad Shipping Task Force will organize its work around several lines of efforts and aims to establish two to three Quad low-emission or zero-emission shipping corridors by 2030, the Fact Sheet said. It also announced the setting up of a Clean-Hydrogen Partnership. This would include technology development and efficiently scaling up the production of clean hydrogen (hydrogen produced from renewable energy, fossil fuels with carbon capture and sequestration, and nuclear for those who choose to deploy it), identification and development of delivery infrastructure to safely and efficiently transport, store, and distribute clean hydrogen for end-use applications, and stimulating market demand to accelerate trade in clean hydrogen in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Quad countries will convene a Climate & Information Services Task Force and build a new technical facility through the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure that will provide technical assistance in small island developing states, it said. As part of people-to-people exchanges and education, the Quad partners announced the Quad Fellowship — a first-of-its-kind scholarship program, operated and administered by a philanthropic initiative and in consultation with a non-governmental task force comprised of leaders from each Quad country. The Quad Fellowship will sponsor 100 students per year—25 from each Quad country—to pursue masters and doctoral degrees at leading STEM graduate universities in the United States. It will serve as one of the world’s leading graduate fellowships; but uniquely, the Quad Fellowship will focus on STEM and bring together the top minds of Australia, India, Japan, and the United States. Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative, will operate and administer the fellowship program in consultation with a non-governmental taskforce, comprised of academic, foreign policy, and private sector leaders from each Quad country. The founding sponsors of the fellowship program include Accenture, Blackstone, Boeing, Google, Mastercard, and Western Digital. On Critical and Emerging Technologies, the Quad said they are committed to working together to foster an open, accessible, and secure technology ecosystem.

As part of this, the Quad will Publish a Quad Statement of Principles, on technology design, development, governance, and use towards responsible, open, high-standards innovation. It will Establish Technical Standards Contact Groups on Advanced Communications and Artificial Intelligence focusing on standards-development activities as well as foundational pre-standardization research.
It will Launch a Semiconductor Supply Chain Initiative, to map capacity, identify vulnerabilities, and bolster supply-chain security for semiconductors and their vital components. This initiative will help ensure Quad partners support a diverse and competitive market that produces the secure critical technologies essential for digital economies globally. It will Support 5G Deployment and Diversification. To support the critical role of Quad governments in fostering and promoting a diverse, resilient, and secure telecommunications ecosystem, the Quad announced launch of a Track 1.5 industry dialogue on Open RAN deployment and adoption, coordinated by the Open RAN Policy Coalition. Quad partners will jointly facilitate enabling environments for 5G diversification, including with efforts related to testing and test facilities.

It will Monitor Biotechnology Scanning. The Quad will monitor trends in critical and emerging technologies, starting with advanced biotechnologies, including synthetic biology, genome sequencing, and biomanufacturing. In the process, we will identify related opportunities for cooperation, it said. On cybersecurity, it said it will launch new efforts to bolster critical-infrastructure resilience against cyber threats by bringing together the expertise of the four nations to drive domestic and international best practices. As part of this, the Quad will Launch a Quad Senior Cyber Group. Leader-level experts will meet regularly to advance work between government and industry on driving continuous improvements in areas including adoption and implementation of shared cyber standards; development of secure software; building workforce and talent; and promoting the scalability and cybersecurity of secure and trustworthy digital infrastructure.
On Space, it said the Quad will begin space cooperation for the first time with a new working group.

In particular, our partnership will exchange satellite data, focused on monitoring and adapting to climate change, disaster preparedness, and responding to challenges in shared domains. The Quad will Share Satellite Data to Protect the Earth and its Waters. The four countries will start discussions to exchange Earth observation satellite data and analysis on climate-change risks and the sustainable use of oceans and marine resources. Sharing this data will help Quad countries to better adapt to climate change and to build capacity in other Indo-Pacific states that are at grave climate risk, in coordination with the Quad Climate Working group.
Enable Capacity-Building for Sustainable Development: The Quad countries will also enable capacity-building in space-related domains in other Indo-Pacific countries to manage risks and challenges. The Quad will also consult on norms, guidelines, principles, and rules for ensuring the long-term sustainability of the outer space environment, it said.

(EW Correspondent)