India likely to join Canada-led multilateral group tackling pandemic


In a sign of an upswing in India-Canada ties, India is likely to join a group of foreign ministers from several countries that is being led by Canada and is aimed at forging a common strategy to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Ministerial Coordination Group on Covid-19 (MCGC) was formed by Canadian foreign minister François-Philippe Champagne on March 15 and has held 10 calls so far between the participating nations.

A senior Indian official said that India is likely to join the conversation on multilateral cooperation when the next monthly meeting takes place later this month. “This is an opportunity to coordinate on issues with several countries, and another piece in the coordination with Canada,” the official said.

Among the countries that have joined the MCGC are the UK, Italy, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, South Africa, Morocco, Brazil, Peru and Australia.

Two nations conspicuous by their absence from this grouping are the US and China.

In a statement after a monthly meeting in April, Champagne had said, “The Covid-19 pandemic is a global challenge. Maintaining strong coordination with our international partners is critical to mitigate the repercussions of the ongoing challenges we face. Keeping people, goods and services moving is key in both addressing these issues and ensuring the transition to a strong recovery.”

The ministers provided an update on their response to the coronavirus pandemic. Among its objectives are focusing on the “importance of multilateral vaccine research and development and ensuring equitable vaccine access to developing countries and vulnerable health systems” as well as “the ongoing need for coordination and multilateralism in response to the economic effects of Covid-19.”

In a release, Global Affairs Canada said the MCGC was “proving to be a valuable forum to discuss, coordinate and act together on global challenges related to Covid-19 and beyond” in a “world increasingly characterised by interdependence, speed and complexity”.

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