Jakarta, Oct 26 ( Berita ) : The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) has transformed into a premier arena of cooperation within 20 years of its existence in the Indian Ocean region. The group carries a solid and firm commitment to promote cooperation and closer interaction among its members.
Established in Mauritius in March 1997, the association includes South Africa, Australia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Seychelles, Singapore, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Uni Comoros and Yemen.
Since 2011, the group has been focusing on six areas of priority, namely maritime safety and security, trade and investment facilitation, fisheries management, disaster risk management, academic and science and technology cooperation, and tourism and cultural exchanges.
Moreover, in 2015, IORA had also agreed to elevate the regional cooperation to a new level by working on IORA Concord and convening IORA Summit in 2017. Given the facts that the Indian Ocean is the world’s third largest ocean and a critical highway for global trade, IORA has become a strategic forum.
Furthermore, the region is brimming with abundant natural resources, including minerals, fishes and oil and gas, which have not been tapped optimally.
Indonesia had its turn to take over the IORA chairmanship for the period between 2015 and 2017 from Australia during an IORA meeting in Padang, West Sumatra, in October 2015.
Indonesia’s IORA theme is “Strengthening Maritime Cooperation for a Peaceful, Stable, and Prosperous Indian Ocean.” “Indonesia is committed to building what we have achieved under Australia’s chairmanship.
Connectivity should be enhanced to bridge the geographical gap as well as to facilitate trade flows and people-to-people contacts,” Yuri O. Thamrin, the then director-general for Asia-Pacific and African affairs of the Indonesian foreign ministry, said at the 17th Meeting of the Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) of IORA in Padang.
One particular issue to highlight under Indonesia’s Chairmanship in IORA is the creation of trade and investment opportunities in the fields of maritime cooperation. In this regard, Indonesia has set up an IORA booth in the Trade Expo Indonesia in Jakarta, with the objective of providing greater business-to-business connections and open wider opportunities within IORA member states.
“I am confident that by working together, we can raise IORA’s international profile, especially if we can ensure that our cooperation is comprehensive and involves a wide network of stakeholders,” Yuri said.
Jakarta hosted the 22nd Indian Ocean Rim Business Forum (IORBF) on October 13, 2016, to discuss the economic and business cooperation in the Indian Ocean region.
Yugi Prayanto, the chairman of the IORBF of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce (KADIN), explained that the IORBF meeting was aimed at increasing the interaction and cooperation between the businessmen from IORA member States and dialogue partners, in order to develop economic, trade, and investment cooperation in the Indian Ocean region.
During the forum, co-chaired by Indonesia and South Africa, the creation of the IORA Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IORA-CEPA) and IORA Business Travel Card (IBTC) were approved by 40 businessmen from participating member states.
Last September, a symposium themed “Learning from the Past and Charting the Future” was organized in Yogyakarta. The meeting discussed thoroughly the challenges, opportunities and the strategies that IORA should adopt in projecting its future.
Currently, a series of regional meetings of IORA are being held in Nusa Dua, Bali, from October 22 to 27, 2016, to discuss the stability in the Indian Ocean region.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi is scheduled to chair the ministerial level meeting of IORA on October 27. At least 11 ministers have confirmed their participation.
With over 250 delegates from 21 countries, the meetings comprise the 3rd Ad-hoc Committee Meeting on the IORA Concord on October 22 and 23, the 16th Meeting of the Working Group on Trade and Investment on October 24, the 18th Meeting of the Committee of Senior Officials from October 25 to 26, the Interactive Dialogue between the Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) and Dialogue Partners on October 26 and the 16th Council of Ministers Meeting (COM) on October 27.
The 16th Ministerial Meeting of IORA is expected to produce a Bali Communique to reiterate the commitment of the Indian Ocean Rim countries to strengthen the synergy and regional consultations for regional stability.
They will also discuss an IORA Concord expected to be approved in an IORA Summit in March 2017, coinciding with the commemoration of the association’s 20th anniversary. The meetings will also be attended by representatives from seven partner countries, namely the US, the UK, Japan, Germany, Egypt, France and China. (ant )