Jakarta to host ocean ‘neighbours’

Piracy is one of the issues on the Indian Ocean Rim Association agenda. Source: Wikimedia

Jakarta will host the first Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) summit in March, the Foreign Ministry’s regional affairs chief, Desra Percaya, has confirmed.

Member states were due to sign the IORA Concord, which aimed to strengthen economic and strategic cooperation among the 21 countries with Indian Ocean coastlines, Desra said.

“The process of drafting the concord is continuing and will be followed up by an IORA ministerial meeting in October in Nusa Dua, Bali,” Desra told the media.

The new bloc aims to maximise regional trade, investment and economic cooperation and address issues such as illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, human trafficking, drug smuggling, illegal migration and piracy.

The IORA’s initiating states are Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Malaysia, Mozambique, Seychelles, Oman, South Africa, Singapore, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Indonesia holds the chair through 2017.

The IORA urged closer cooperation among members in an 11-point document called the Yogyakarta Message.

The agreement says that members should emphasise sustainable development and help preserving the ocean. The document also calls for networking to implement the so-called small-island development initiative.

The concept of a “blue economic” development would be on the agenda in March, said Siswo Pramono, Indonesia’s chief of policy assessment and development at the Foreign Ministry. He said there must be a comprehensive and sustainable approach to fisheries, farming, marine biotechnology, industry, energy, tourism and transport.

“One of the most important things is economic cooperation because IORA members vary from least developed countries [LDCs] to G20 members,” Siswo added. “Solid cooperation is needed to improve the LDCs.”

IORA member states could share experiences, strategic advantage and fisheries management, he added.
“I believe all countries in the Indian Ocean have the experience, but they need to work together to optimise it,” the Indonesian official explained.
He pointed to the Indian Ocean’s huge potential to support the economy of each IORA state, adding that “the Indian Ocean is not a coast, but is a high sea so they must manage it together”.