THE 12th meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) got underway here on Thursday with calls for increased avenues for cooperation among member countries that share waters of the third largest ocean.
Union of the Comoros became the 20th member of the association and its head of delegation signed the required protocols at the start of business at The Oberoi Hotel in Gurgaon, a booming commercial, residential and industrial hub in India's National Capital Region. Head of Tanzania's delegation at the meeting, Industry and Trade Minister Abdallah Kigoda, expressed his country's commitment to the objectives and aspirations of the association, whose secretariat is based in Cyber City, Ebene, Mauritius.
Dr Kigoda said Tanzania had the highest hopes for cooperation with India with the appointment of the new Indian External Affairs Minister, Mr Salman Khurshid. "We shall do the best to augment proposals made by Mozambique to facilitate and develop fisheries to generate employment and promote appropriate use of Indian Ocean waters among member states," Dr Kigoda told the meeting in an opening session address.
The minister said Tanzania will do her best and participate fully in the global effort to combat the threat of piracy to ensure the rim's total safety in collaboration with other member states.Other members of the delegation include the Minister of State in the Zanzibar President's Office, Dr Mwinyihaji Makame Mwadini, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Mahadhi Juma Maalim and the High Commissioner to India, Engineer John Kijazi.
At its session , the meeting was expected to chart out ways to enhance economic cooperation and confront challenges like piracy that threatens free movement in the Indian Ocean waters.Around 60 per cent of global maritime cargo, including oil supplies from the Middle East, passes through Indian Ocean waters.
Host India is the current chair of the IOR-ARC. Over 80 per cent of India's international trade passes through the Indian Ocea Launched in Mauritius in March 1997, IOR-ARC has prioritized Maritime Safety and Security; Trade and Investment Facilitation; Fisheries Management; Disaster Risk Reduction; Academic and Science and Technology and Tourism Promotion and Cultural Exchanges as key operational areas.
The present IOR-ARC Secretary General is a former Indian High Commissioner to Tanzania, Ambassador K.V. Bhagirath.In addition to the Union of Comoros that joined the body yesterday, other members are Australia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.