On December 17, 2020, the 20th Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Council of Ministers (COM) Meeting 2020 hosted virtually by United Arab Emirates (UAE) where Indian side was represented by Vellamvelly Muraleedharan, Minister of State (MoS) Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).France became 23rd member of the IORA.
- The COM was inaugurated by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of UAE while it was chaired by Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, UAE Minister of State.
- It was the first virtual COM amid COVID-19.
- It should be noted that the UAE is the chair of IORA for a period 2019-2021 on the theme “Promoting a Shared Destiny and Path to Prosperity in the Indian Ocean”.
- The meeting was attended by all 22 Member States and 10 Dialogue Partners and also adopted the Emirates Communique as the outcome of the COM.
- Notably, all participants congratulated France on becoming the 23rd member of the IORA.
- Sri Lanka will be the Vice Chair of IORA for the period 2021-23;
- COM endorsed Bangladesh’s lead role as Vice-Chair in preparation of the new Action Plan (2022-2026) of IORA. Notably, Bangladesh will assume the charge of the IORA Chair for two years beginning from October 2021.
Focus of COM Meeting: To discuss ways in coordinating efforts to achieve IORA’s vision for a peaceful, stable, and prosperous Indian Ocean region (IOR) as outlined in the Jakarta Concord and IORA Action Plan.
Key Points with respect to India:
–IORA acts as a platform for regional cooperation in the IOR and the wider Indo-Pacific.
–India has contributed as Coordinating Country, in two priority areas of IORA namely, Disaster Risk Management and Academic, Science & Technology.
–Indian side called for greater cooperation in the field of traditional medicine and wellness tourism among IORA Member States.
–India has deployed an IT (Information Technology) Expert by India and is also implementing e-Office system and Mahatma Gandhi library at the IORA Secretariat as a commitment towards the strengthening of IORA.
–India was the chair of IORA in 2011 during which IORA adopted its six priority areas which are guiding principles of all its activities.
Additionally, the 22nd meeting of the Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) held from 15 – 16 December 2020, was chaired by H.E. Abdul Nasser Al Shaali, Assistant Minister for Economic and Trade Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
Key Points from meet:
–An agreement was also inked to include the French Republic as the IORA’s 23rd Member State, on the basis of Reunion Island only.
–Recent a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the Member States of IORA for the Coordination and Cooperation of Search and Rescue (SAR) Services in the Indian Ocean Region by India and Maldives.
–IORA is also increasing engagements with China, France, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the United States of America (USA).
–Bangladesh volunteered to host the workshop on IORA’s membership criteria in early 2021. It was also decided that Sri Lanka would host the Fourth IORA Ministerial Blue Economy Conference (BEC-IV) in late 2021.
Recent Related News:
i.On November 5, 2020 OPEC(Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) Secretariat hosted the 4th High- Level Meeting of the OPEC-India Dialogue through video conference. The meeting was co-chaired by Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas & Steel and Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, Secretary General of OPEC.
ii.The first-ever virtual Indo-Africa Summit, organized by IMC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Indian Merchants’ Chamber) and Africa Business News (CNBC Africa), was held on November 4 to 6, 2020 which was addressed by Union Minister Piyush Vedprakash Goyal, Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
About Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA):
Secretary-General– Nomvuyo N. Nokwe
Headquarter– Ebene, Mauritius