During a session of the Senate’s External Affairs and Defence Commission in Rome, India’s External Affairs Minister, S. Jaishankar, described the combined impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine conflict on the global economy as “very traumatic” and forewarned of “difficult and turbulent” times ahead.
Jaishankar articulated his concerns, stating, “We anticipate that the times ahead will be very challenging and turbulent… Over the past five years, the aftermath of COVID-19 has left a deep imprint, not only on the global economy but also on societies. Many countries and societies are still struggling to recover.”
The External Affairs Minister highlighted that numerous countries are grappling with financial crises and debt issues, which have been further exacerbated by the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
“We have witnessed a regression in sustainable development goals in many countries, with many nations currently facing financial and economic crises, with debt emerging as a significant concern. Trade has encountered substantial challenges,” Jaishankar emphasized.
He also underscored the global ripple effects of the Ukraine conflict, explaining, “The Ukraine conflict has impacted every corner of the world in a globalized context. Europe, of course, has borne the brunt of it, but even regions farther afield have experienced issues related to energy, food, and inflation, all of which can be directly attributed to the repercussions of the Ukraine conflict.”
Jaishankar emphasized Italy’s historical significance as one of India’s oldest connections to Europe and its substantial contributions to bolstering cooperation with the European Union.
“Italy has been historically one of our oldest connections with Europe. In recent years, Italy has played a pivotal role in enhancing cooperation with the European Union as a whole. Since 2021, we have been engaged in negotiations for a series of agreements, the most significant being a free trade agreement with the European Union, as well as agreements on geographical indications and investment. These negotiations are intricate,” Jaishankar remarked.
He added, “Furthermore, last year, we established a trade and technology council with the European Union. The EU has only established two such councils, one with the United States and one with India. The close coordination and cooperation between the EU, the US, and India on technology-related matters are of significant importance.”