IORA Current Affairs - 2019
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The Ministry of External Affairs has set up an Indo-Pacific division in the foreign office. The Indo-pacific division is intended to give a coherent architecture to the Indo-Pacific policy articulated by PM Narendra Modi at the Shangri-La Dialogue in 2018.
- The Indo-Pacific Wing is currently headed by joint secretary Vikram Doraiswami.
- The Indo-Pacific Wing is a big step by the government and it is expected to give thrust to the Indo-Pacific centred policymaking.
- The Indo-Pacific Wing integrates the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), ASEAN region and the Quad.
The Indo-Pacific diplomacy of India India has repeatedly placed ASEAN at the centre of its policy. Even the US has recently renamed its Pacific Command to the Indo-Pacific Command as it seeks to give teeth to its Indo-Pacific policy.
Bangladesh was elected as Vice Chairman of Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) for the period of 2019-21 and eventually as IORA Chairman for 2021-23 at 18th IORA Council of Ministers’ Meeting held in Durban, South Africa. The Current Chair is South Africa and Vice Chair is UAE.
As per practice, IORA is led by Chair and Vice Chair on behalf of member States. The stint of posts is two years. When incumbent Vice Chair UAE will take post of Chair in 2019, Bangladesh will assume Vice Chairmanship. After completion of two years of vice chairmanship, Bangladesh will become Chairman of IORA for first time in October 2021.
Outcomes 18th IORA Council of Ministers’ Meeting
- Maldives was accepted as 22nd Member of IORA (with India’s backing). Myanmar membership proposal was not approved due to lack of consensus (mainly opposed by South Africa).
- Bangladesh will host 3rd IORA Blue Economy Ministerial Conference in Dhaka in September 2019. It be the first ever IORA Ministerial level Conference to be organized by Bangladesh.
- Two outcome documents were adopted namely ‘Declaration on commemoration of Nelson Mandela’ and eThekwini Communique.
- These documents are expected to enhance co-operation among 22 member states and contribute more in ensuring a peaceful, stable and sustainable Indian Ocean.
Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA)
IORA formerly known as t Indian Ocean Rim Initiative and Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) is international organisation consisting of coastal states bordering Indian Ocean. 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.
It is regional forum, tripartite in nature, bringing together representatives of Government, Business and Academia, for promoting co-operation and closer interaction among them. It was established in March 1997. Its coordinating secretariat (headquarter) is in Ebene Cyber City, Mauritius. The apex body of IORA is the Council of (Foreign) Ministers (COM).
Membership: It comprises 22 member states (including recently inducted Maldives) and 7 dialogue partners (China, Egypt, France, Germany, Japan, United Kingdom and United States), Indian Ocean Tourism Organisation and Indian Ocean Research Group have observer status. (Members in Map)
Objectives of IORA
- Promote sustainable growth and balanced development of the region and member states
- Focus on those areas of economic cooperation which provide maximum opportunities for development, shared interest and mutual benefits.
- Promote liberalisation, remove impediments and lower barriers towards freer and enhanced flow of goods, services, investment, and technology within Indian Ocean rim.
Six priority areas of IORA
- Maritime security,
- Trade and investment facilitation,
- Fisheries management,
- Disaster risk reduction,
- Academic and scientific cooperation
- Tourism promotion and cultural exchanges.