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Economic Diplomacy 2021: How India can move from a year of diagnosis to a year of medication

The word ‘eventful’ hardly does the bare minimum in describing the unyielding year of 2020. This year bought to the forefront the importance of collaboration, grit, and endurance. As billions were placed under lockdown in the confines of their homes and given an opportunity to conduct personal reflection on these values, nations were also given a chance at diplomatic assessment and revision. This year saw some drastic changes in the dismantling of multilateral institutions and widening international divisions. It was also a year of increasing poverty, widening inequality, and low economic growth – if any – for India.

While 2020 Indian news headlines were predominantly dominated by the India-China LAC standoff, there were also other events in Indian diplomacy that were relatively obscured but will potentially transform India’s international relations. However, the question remains of how India will use its levers of foreign policy to make use of diplomatic opportunities in the coming year.

On the Indian-European Union front, optimism is rife. The EU, which is already India’s largest trading partner, is in talks to expand India’s role in its trade policy, which is currently the EU’s 9th largest trading partner. The India EU summit in July laid the foundation for a deeper and more strategic cooperation between the European Union and India in times to come. Both the EU and India have agreed to deepen cooperation in areas like climate change, maritime security, digital economy, connectivity, research and innovation, water and climate action, and civil nuclear cooperation. 2021 also offers various opportunities in strengthening India-Scandinavia ties in the areas of innovation, security, and climate change. The foreign minister’s recent meeting with the envoys of the Visegrad group further indicates that India is pursuing wide-ranging bilateralism with all the EU members.

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