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Amid China’s outbreaks, India can position itself as global manufacturing hub

With China witnessing repeated outbreaks of respiratory ailments, India can position itself as a global manufacturing hub by enhancing its supply chain capabilities and investing in healthcare infrastructure, think tank GTRI said in a report.

India can leverage its workforce and manufacturing potential in sectors like mobile phones and laptops, the Global Trade Research Initiative (GTRI) said. According to the report, China has experienced several outbreaks due to close human-animal contact, including Covid-19 (2019), H7N9 bird flu (2013), H5N6 bird flu (2014), and H10N3 bird flu (2021). While these outbreaks had varying impacts, Covid-19 notably escalated into a global pandemic. These outbreaks, especially Covid-19, have prompted a reevaluation of global supply chains and reliance on China for manufacturing. Businesses are considering alternatives like reshoring or diversifying supply sources to mitigate risks.

“India is positioned to benefit from this trend by enhancing its supply chain capabilities and investing in healthcare infrastructure,” GTRI Co-Founder Ajay Srivastava. He also said that in response to criticisms of the WHO and China’s handling of Covid-19, India is advised to establish its independent monitoring centres for better preparedness and response to future health crises. Since mid-October 2023, there has been an increase in respiratory illnesses among children in northern China, linked to the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions and the onset of the cold season, the report said.

A health ministry statement on November 26 said that the Government of India is closely monitoring the situation and indicated that there is no need for any alarm. The report said that China supplies more than 90 per cent of laptops and produces most components in-house. The same applies to washing machines, solar PV cells and EV batteries. “The world will suffer if supply lines get disrupted due to any reason. Covid has demonstrated this amply for medicines…In this context, India’s efforts to make mobile phones, and laptops locally for supply to the world must be welcomed,” it said adding India can capitalize on the diversification trend by enhancing its supply chain capabilities.

The government can further incentivize manufacturing in sectors where India has a competitive advantage or can quickly scale up, it suggested. “Establishing a strong framework for crisis management, including pandemic preparedness, can reassure international stakeholders of India’s resilience in the face of global challenges,” it said. PTI

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