Indian Ocean Rim Association

Indian Ocean Rim Association

This is a guest blog by Aneesh. Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), formerly known as the Indian Ocean Rim Initiative and Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC), is an international organization consisting of coastal states bordering the Indian Ocean. The IORA is a regional forum, bringing together representatives of government, business and academia, for promoting co-operation and closer interaction among them. It is based on the principles of open regionalism for strengthening economic cooperation particularly on trade facilitation, investment, promotion as well as social development of the region.
IORA: Background
IORA was first established as Indian Ocean Rim Initiative in Mauritius in 1995 and formally launched in 1997 by the conclusion of a multilateral treaty known as the Charter of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Co-operation. Consequently, an Indian Ocean Rim Initiative was formed by South Africa and India. Mauritius and Australia joined subsequently. In 1997, the IOR-ARC was formally launched, with seven additional countries as members: Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Yemen, Tanzania, Madagascar and Mozambique.
Objectives of IORA Indian Ocean Rim Association

The objectives of IORA are as follows:

  • To promote sustainable growth and balanced development of the region and member states.
  • To focus on those areas of economic cooperation which provide maximum opportunities for development, shared interest and mutual benefits.
  • To promote liberalization, remove impediments and lower trade barriers within the Indian Ocean rim.

Membership: IORA

IORA comprises 21 member states and 7 dialogue partners. The Indian Ocean Tourism Organization and the Indian Ocean Research Group has observer status.
Members
Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Somalia, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Yemen.
Dialogue Partners
China, Egypt, France, Germany, Japan, United Kingdom, United States.
 
IORA Leaders’ Summit 2017
 IORA celebrated its 20th anniversary when Indonesia, as the current Chair of IORA, hosted the first ever IORA Leaders’ Summit on 7 March 2017 in Jakarta under the theme “Strengthening maritime cooperation for a peaceful, stable, and prosperous Indian Ocean“. In a historic first, the summit brought together the leaders of the 21 IORA member states and its 7 dialogue partners as well as other special invitees including the Republic of Myanmar.
Member States issued the Jakarta Concord – Promoting Regional Cooperation for a Peaceful, Stable and Prosperous Indian Ocean – which sets out a vision for a revitalized and sustainable regional architecture. The summit is a game-changer for regional cooperation and a demonstration of member states and dialogue partners’ commitment to the Indian Ocean Region.
Significance of IORA to India:

  • India took the diplomatic initiative at the beginning of this decade to revive the idea of Indian Ocean regionalism.
  • India’s growing sea-borne trade and the power shift in the Indian Ocean has compelled Delhi to pay greater attention to securing a sustainable regional order in the vast littoral.
  • As India began to reinvest in Indian Ocean regionalism, the Indian Ocean forum identified some priority areas, including maritime safety and security, trade and investment facilitation, fisheries management, disaster management, and promotion of tourism.

Challenges Ahead

  1. The ideas of regional and global integration that held sway since the turn of the 1990s has taken some beating amidst the resurgence of protectionist sentiments in the West.
  2. Internal turbulence in the region, especially in the Middle East, has witnessed violent extremism which acts as a harbinger of anarchy and instability.
  3. While Indonesia, Australia and other middle powers are important players in the Indian Ocean, their priorities currently lie elsewhere.
  4. As the largest economy and biggest military power in the region, it is largely up to India to shape the future of Indian Ocean regionalism.

Prognosis
Along with the official meetings, IORA engaged with the private sector through a “Business Summit” that was held on 6 March 2017 to deepen business cooperation in the region.
All eyes are on ‘Third IORA Blue Economy Core Group on Environmental Sustainability & the Blue Economy in the Indian Ocean Rim Region to be convened on 10-11 April 2017 in Mauritius, since Blue Economy is gaining increasing importance globally with the wide range of opportunities that it offers which can invigorate economic development and growth in the region.
Indian Ocean Rim Association

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