Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Opening Statement by EAM at the Council of Ministers’ Meeting of 11th Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC)

November 15, 2011

Excellencies, Distinguished Leaders of Delegations and
Members of the Official Delegations,

Allow me to first thank our officials, business persons and academics, as well as our Secretariat, for their diligent preparatory work for this meeting.

I am grateful to all of you for the confidence reposed in India, as we assume the Chair of this Association for the first time. My colleagues and I will work closely with you to contribute to our collective vision and to achieve our shared objectives.

We welcome Australia as the Vice Chair of our Association.


Over six decades ago, our first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru envisioned a grouping of countries bordering the Indian Ocean that could help one another in tacking common challenges. This extraordinarily perceptive idea was realized in 1997 with the formation of our Association. We reaffirmed then that the Indian Ocean is an integral part of our collective destiny, and that we need a holistic vision for a cooperative response to current challenges for this region.

The key east-west arteries of international trade – especially in commodities and energy sources – run through our ocean. Maritime security issues impact on our strategic security and the conventional security of our boundaries. Technological evolution and the rising cost of natural resources have made it economically viable to harvest new resources from our sea beds.

The sustainability of our economic development in today’s ecologically challenged world requires efficient management of our shared seas. Conservation and sustainable harvesting are vital for the security of our marine food resources.

These are both opportunities and challenges for collaboration, which reinforce the cultural and civilizational factors that have historically united our region. Our Association is based on an open regionalism, permitting multiple channels of interaction in areas of regional and sub-regional interest.


Piracy is a priority challenge. It increases the direct cost of trade. It adds indirect costs through increased insurance premia and a human cost to many of our nationals involved in the shipping industry. We need to build upon existing national, regional and multilateral measures to enhance coordination to combat piracy.

We can build functional relationships between our Navies and Coast Guards to enhance the security of our waters. Our port and customs authorities, as well as our shipping firms, need to address issues of transport infrastructure and connectivity that hinder trade.

The growth of intra-regional trade has been limited by poor connectivity, market complexities and inadequate trade facilitation. Our intra-regional investment flows are modest, though many of our economies are important destinations for foreign direct investment from outside our region. We need to promote initiatives to rectify this situation.

We should strengthen connections between our disaster management agencies. India is willing to share its experiences with the Tsunami Warning System for the Indian Ocean.

Our hydrology, marine biology and weather systems research institutions can develop mutually beneficial collaborative projects, share best practices and enhance national capacities. We can invite the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium, of which all our countries are members, to make a presentation on its work at our future meetings.

Our international technical cooperation programme, ITEC, offers capacity-building courses in a number of areas of priority interest to our Association. Our Foreign Service Institute has developed training modules that could be of interest to diplomats in our member-countries.

More regular educational, cultural and tourism exchanges can play a key role in promoting people-to-people understanding.


Our officials have been discussing ways of simplifying procedures for utilization of our Special Fund. It should become an effective instrument for financing projects and studies of common interest. With this objective, India has decided to provide additional funding of US $ 1 million to the Fund.


From our meetings over the last few days, we get the sense of widespread impatience for our Association to move from discussion to action. India shares this sentiment and would like our meeting today to impart the required momentum in this direction. We have asked all our Heads of Mission in your countries to attend our deliberations here, so that they can take forward our agenda in priority sectors of interest.

In conclusion, Excellencies, I thank you again for your support. I look forward to hearing your views on how best to make our Association more effective.

Thank you.

November 15, 2011

Source - MEA Website

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