Padang, October 23, 2015. “We gather here today to seize existing opportunities and to address our common concerns and interests in the Indian Ocean,” said the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, Retno Marsudi on her opening remarks in the 15th Meeting of the Council of Ministers.
From 20 to 23 October 2015, Indonesia hosted Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Meeting of the Committee of Senior Officials and the Council of Ministers in Padang, West Sumatera. Indonesia assumed IORA Chairmanship for two years (2015-2017) . Together with South Africa as Vice Chair, Indonesia has adopted the theme “Strengthening Maritime Cooperation in a Peaceful and Stable Indian Ocean” as its chairmanship.
“Our cooperation in IORA has enabled us to tap some of the potentials in the region,” she added; IORA has to explore opportunities for economic interaction; to forge mutually beneficial cooperation; and to better serve the needs and well-being of the peoples.
Thus, Indonesia collaborates closely with South Africa and working with all member states to vigorously pursue projects and initiatives that will enhance collective capacities, bolster the institutions and enhance regionalism in the Indian Ocean. Indonesia has proposed a list of initiatives in IORA during its chairmanship, among others the establishment IORA Business Innovation Centre; training programs, and many working level meetings, including the 3rd Indian Ocean Dialogue and 2nd Blue Economy Conference.
Given the vital importance of the Indian Ocean, Minister Retno also highlighted the importance to safeguard the Indian Ocean security. “We must safeguard its security. We must effectively address non-traditional security challenges such as IUU fishing, trafficking in persons, illicit drugs trade, disasters and climate change.”
In addition to the meeting, IORA also held other related meetings, including Working Group on trade and Investment (WGTI), the Indian Ocean Rim Academic Group (IORAG) in Padang, and the Indian Ocean Rim Business Forum (IORBF) in Jakarta.
IORA is the apex regional organization in the Indian Ocean, comprises member states from three continents and several dialogue partners. Its primary objective is to facilitate trade and investment, promote sustainable economic cooperation and capacity building for the development and prosperity of its member.