India, Norway welcome establishment of global Covid-19 vaccine facility COVAX

New Delhi (NVI): India and Norway today welcomed the establishment of the global COVID-19 vaccine initiative known as COVAX and the work to secure fair global access to vaccines, especially among the third world countries.

At the sixth session of the India-Norway Joint Commission held on a virtual platform today, both sides reaffirmed their commitment to the bilateral cooperation on maternal and child health, amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the meeting, the Norwegian delegation was led by Ine Eriksen Søreide, Foreign Minister of Norway and the Indian delegation was led by Dr. S Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement here.

During the meeting, the Ministers agreed that the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis provides the opportunity to build more sustainable economies.

Noting that the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic had posed significant challenges to nations across the world, the Ministers reiterated their commitment to cooperate closely in combating the pandemic.

In addition to that, both sides took note of the significant progress made in the Ocean Dialogue and the initiatives undertaken by the Task Force on Blue Economy for Sustainable Development to synergize potentials both in India and Norway, particularly in areas such as fisheries, aquaculture, green technologies for maritime use, construction of vessels, ship recycling and green ports.

Both sides emphasized the cohesive action undertaken in areas of marine pollution, integrated ocean management and research, and marine spatial planning. The ministers underscored the potential for cooperation on the blue economy to help protect the oceans, while creating sustainable growth and jobs.

Apart from that, both sides discussed the Dialogue on Trade and Investment (DTI) which gave impetus to business cooperation and participation of Norwegian companies in the flagship programmes of India. The first meeting of DTI held in January 2020 in New Delhi identified areas of cooperation to include maritime, fisheries, tourism, skill development, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSME) and renewable energy among others areas, the MEA said.

The ministers also reaffirmed their commitment to expand the bilateral trade in order to realize the untapped potential in the commercial and economic relationship. They expressed their hope for an early conclusion of the India and EFTA trade negotiations.

The activities undertaken under the Joint Working Groups (JWG) on Maritime, Marine, Hydrocarbons, Environment, Science and Technology, and Higher Education also featured in the talks. Both the Ministers underlined the significance of the JWGs giving impetus and direction to the cooperation between the two countries, in particular to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, combat climate change and move towards a greener economy.

Jaishankar and his Norwegian counterpart also emphasised the central role of the UN in maintaining global peace and security.

“Now that India and Norway are incoming elected members of the United Nations Security Council, both sides agreed to engage in regular consultations at senior officials level on Security Council issues during the membership period 2021-22,” the MEA statement read.

The two Ministers also reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations and expressed satisfaction over significant progress. They noted that the visit of Prime Minister Erna Solberg to New Delhi in January 2019 laid down a blueprint for a comprehensive partnership between India and Norway.

Towards the end of the virtual session, both sides decided to hold the next round of Joint Commission Meeting in Oslo at a mutually convenient date.