The 12th Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Co-operation (IOR-ARC) will be held from October 29 to November 2 in Gurgaon, Haryana.
The 10 Foreign Ministers and seven Deputy Foreign Ministers who will attend the meeting are expected to focus on new initiatives on enhancing anti-piracy cooperation. Among other issues on the agenda will be the U.S.’s request to be considered as a dialogue partner in the grouping. The member states are expected to take a decision on this request during the meeting.
Maritime security is among the six key issues this group chooses to address. The other areas are fisheries management, disaster risk reduction, tourism and cultural exchanges, academic and science and technology cooperation and trade and investment facilitation.
The Indian Ocean is a strategic zone as up to 60% of the global maritime cargo, and 80% of India’s international trade passes through its waters.
The rising incidents of piracy threaten the commercial interests of member-states and non-member states like China alike, as they depend on oil which is transported from West Asia.
Indian Defence Minister A. K. Antony in a recent Naval Commanders’ conference stated, “Our government is pursuing a string of proactive engagements with countries in the Indian Ocean region to ensure peace and stability, which is also related to our economic and wider security interests.”
This is the second Council of Ministers’ meeting of the IOR-ARC under India’s Chairmanship. The previous Council of Ministers’ meeting was held in Bengaluru in November last year.
Established in 1997, the IOR-ARC an initiative of the Indian Ocean Rim countries to promote economic and technical cooperation. It aims to create a platform for trade, socio-economic and cultural cooperation for the 19 member countries in the Indian Ocean area.
Presently, the IOR-ARC members are Australia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Malaysia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, UAE and Yemen.