The Indian Ocean Rim defines a distinctive area in international politics consisting of coastal states bordering the Indian Ocean. It is a r
egion of much diversity, in culture, race, religion, economic development, and strategic interests. The countries vary in the size of their populations, economies, trade, and technological development and in the composition of their GDP. A number of sub-regions are evident, for example Southern and Eastern Africa, Gulf of Aden, Oman Sea, South-Asia, Southeast Asia, and Australasia. It also includes a number of regional organisations, such as ASEAN, GCC, SAARC, and SADCC.
An Economic Community of Nations
For many centuries, the countries, economies and peoples of the Indian Ocean have been bound together in an informal, cooperative economic community. Traders, seamen, fishermen, and pilgrims traversed the Indian Ocean and its numerous ports, enabling a vibrant trading network to emerge.
Impact of De-Colonisation
After the Second World War, the decolonisation process ended British hegemony in the Indian Ocean. Superpower rivalry in the region escalated, due to the strategic importance of the area. The common historical experience of European imperialism had left a lasting impression on the leaders of states in the Indian Ocean region – of a sense of shared identity. The rediscovery of the past littoral economic, social and cultural community, of an ocean-centric regional co-operative grouping serving as a bridgehead between Africa, Asia and Australasia, therefore seemed only natural.
In 1995, during a visit to India, President Nelson Mandela stated that “the natural urge of the facts of history and geography should broaden itself to include the concept of an Indian Ocean Rim for socio-economic co-operation and other peaceful endeavors. Recent changes in the international system demand that the countries of the Indian Ocean shall become a single platform.”
The Mighty Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the world’s third largest Ocean. It carries half of the world’s container ships, one third of the bulk cargo traffic, two-thirds of the world’s oil shipments. It is a lifeline of international trade and economy. The region is woven together by trade routes and commands control of the major sea-lanes. The Indian Ocean Rim constitutes between a quarter and a third of the world’s population (close to two billion) which makes it a massive market. It is rich in strategic and precious minerals and metals and other natural resources, valuable marine resources ranging from food fisheries to raw material and energy for industries. It has abundant agricultural wealth in terms of the variety and mass of arable land and has significant human resources and technological capabilities. Many countries of the Rim are becoming globally competitive and are developing new capacities, which can be jointly harnessed through regional co-operation efforts.
On 29-31 March 1995, the Mauritius Government convened a meeting to discuss the enhancement of economic co-operation among countries of the Indian Ocean Rim. Representatives from the government, business sectors and academia, from Australia, India, Kenya, Mauritius, Sultanate of Oman, Singapore and South Africa, known as the “CoreGroupStates” or M-7, attended the meeting. In a joint statement issued at the end of the meeting, the participants declared that they had agreed on “Principles of Open Regionalism and Inclusivity of Membership, with the objectives of Trade Liberalization and Promoting Trade Co-operation. Activities would focus on Trade Facilitation, Investment Promotion and Economic Co-operation.”
A tripartite Working Group (Government, Academic and Private Sector) met in Mauritius on 15 -17 August of 1995. This meeting decided to create a “Second Track” process as complimentary to an Inter-Governmental Movement. A later meeting during September 1996 in Mauritius finalised a Charter for the creation of the IOR-ARC, and expanded the membership to include Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Yemen,Tanzania, Madagascar and Mozambique- known as the M-14.
Scope of Work
The IOR-ARC is a regional forum, tripartite in nature, 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 and Investment, Promotion as well as Social Development of the region.
The open regionalism, which is more member-friendly than other neo-liberal regional arrangements, includes three key components namely,
(a) the Trade Liberalisation
(b) Trade and Investment Facilitation
(c) Economic and Technical Cooperation.
MEMBER DRIVEN APPROACH
IOR-ARC seeks to build and expand understanding and mutually beneficial cooperation through an evolutionary and non-intrusive approach. A member driven approach is followed by Member States to achieve the goals and objectives of the Association.
It promotes a principle of good governance which enables smooth implementation of its work programmes through its three separate Working Groups, namely the Working Group on Trade and Investment (WGTI), the Indian Ocean Rim Business Forum (IORBF), and the Indian Ocean Rim Academic Group (IORAG).
The priority areas identified for the Association in medium to long term, in the Charter include (i) Poverty Alleviation, (ii) Promotion of Maritime Transport and related matters, (iii) Cooperation in the fields of Fisheries Trade, (iv) Research and Management, (v) Aquaculture, (vi) Education and Training, (vii) Energy, (viii) Information Technology, (ix) Health, (x) Protection of the Environment, (xi) Agriculture, (xii) Disaster Management.
The Indian Ocean Rim-Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC), initially known as the Indian Ocean Rim Initiative, is an International/Diplomatic Organization with 20 Member States. It was first established in Mauritius on March 1995 and formally launched on 6-7 March 1997.
Date of Joining
|Australia||07 March 1997|
|Bangladesh||31 March 1999|
|Union of the Comoros||02 November 2012|
|India||07 March 1997|
|Indonesia||07 March 1997|
|Iran||31 March 1999|
|Kenya||07 March 1997|
|Madagascar||07 March 1997|
|Malaysia||07 March 1997|
|Mauritius||07 March 1997|
|Mozambique||07 March 1997|
|Oman||07 March 1997|
|Seychelles||15 November 2011|
|Singapore||07 March 1997|
|South Africa||07 March 1997|
|Sri Lanka||07 March 1997|
|Tanzania||07 March 1997|
|Thailand||31 March 1999|
|The United Arab Emirates||31 March 1999|
07 March 1997
Countries with the status of Dialogue Partners are:
|China||23 January 2000|
|Egypt||31 March 1999|
|France||08 April 2001|
|Japan||31 March 1999|
|United Kingdom||23 January 2000|
|United States of America||02 November 2012|