South Africa is set to take over the chairmanship of the Indian Ocean Rim Association Council (IORA) in October until 2019.
South Africa's theme for its tenure is 'Uniting the Peoples of Africa, Asia, Australasia and the Middle East through Enhanced Cooperation for Peace, Stability and Sustainable Development'.
As chair, Pretoria has committed to further regional cooperation in areas such as the blue economy, women economic empowerment, SME promotion, youth empowerment and cooperation in academics, science and technology.
The IORA is an international organisation consisting of 21 coastal states bordering the Indian Ocean, whose aims is to promote trade liberalisation and trade cooperation between the member states, with activities focusing on trade facilitation, investment promotion and economic cooperation.
South Africa is one of the founding members of the IORA. The Indian Ocean region's population is home to nearly one-third of the world's population and is of great economic significance due to its strategic location.
Half of the world's trade travels through this region and the IORA's vast coastline holds two thirds of the world's oil reserves, and one third of the bulk cargo traffic and produces goods and services worth over US$1 trillion, with intra-IORA trade amounting to some US$777 billion.
With South Africa taking over as chair, it will also host the 17th Indian Ocean Rim Association Council of Ministers' Meetings from 14 - 18 October 2017 in Durban.