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Indian Ocean group meets in Delhi, touting trade
Publication Date : 02-11-2012
Foreign ministers and high officials from the 19 member nations of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) are meeting in Gurgaon, a suburb of the Indian capital of New Delhi.
The officials in attendance plan to adopt a joint communique discussing economic and trade cooperation in the region.
The meeting of the IOR-ARC's Council of Ministers on yesterday —the apex of the five-day event — was preceded by smaller meetings of the Indian Ocean Rim Academic Group (Iorag), the Working Group on Trade and Investment (WGTI) and the Indian Ocean Rim Business Forum (IORBF) between Monday and Wednesday.
The association's Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) also convened yesterday.
India's secretary for economic relations, Sanjay Vyas, told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday that the meeting in Gurgaon would end in a communique covering six areas: maritime safety, security and anti-piracy programmes; trade and investment; fisheries management; disaster risk reduction; academic and scientific and technological cooperation; tourism promotion and cultural exchanges.
The IOR-ARC, comprising nations bordering the Indian Ocean, was established in Mauritius in 1997. Its secretariat is based in Cyber City, Ebene, Mauritius.
The association currently has 19 members: Australia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
The IOR-ARC also has five dialogue partners — China, Egypt, France, Japan and the UK — and two observers: The Indian Ocean Tourism Organisation (IOTO) and the Indian Ocean Research Group (IORG).
On the agenda for this year's Council of Ministers' meeting is the inclusion of Comoros as the IOR-ARC's 20th member nation and of the US as its sixth dialogue partner.
Delegates to the meeting have been discussing operational issues, such as a proposal to increase the amount member nations must contribute to the association annual contribution from a current US$16,500 to $24,000.
Also on the table is the idea of requesting observer status for the IOR-ARC at the United Nations and other regional or world bodies.
For Indonesia, the annual meeting of the IOR-ARC is expected to open opportunities for the Indonesian economy and entrepreneurs by facilitating trade and investment.
The Indian Ocean rim is home to around 2 billion people and comprises a large market for industrial and non-industrial products that the Indonesian businesses can tap.
The next major event on the agenda for the IOR-ARC is a meeting sponsored by its Regional Centre for Science and Technology Transfer (RCSTT), slated for December 17 to 19 in Tehran, Iran.
The event will be a regional senior officials meeting of the association and has been given the theme of "New Technology, R&D and Commercialisation".
Focusing on the IOR-ARC's RCSTT mandate, the meeting will discuss science and technology including transfer of technology for sustainable development.
The current proposed programme would focus on the above issues, through roundtable meetings among the senior officials of member states to develop a regional mechanisms and a plan of action.