Jakarta, IORA - The concept of Blue Economy development is highly recommended for discussion at the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Summit 2017.The concept of the Blue Economy development is the most recommended issue as IORA member states have marine territory, which must be optimized.
Starting October 2015, Indonesia took over the IORA chairmanship for the 2015-2017 period from Australia, and as the current chairman of the association, Indonesia will host the first ever IORA Summit on October 7, 2017.
Under the theme "Strengthening Maritime Cooperation for a Peaceful, Stable, and Prosperous Indian Ocean", IORA Summit 2017 is preceded by a Committee of Senior Officials' meeting on March 5 and a Council of Ministers' meeting on March 6.
At the ministerial meeting, there would an agreement on action plan for the next four years such as issue of women economic empowerment, declaration of prevention and eradication of terrorism, extremism and violence.
The international symposium of IORA in Yogyakarta on September 14-15, 2016 to welcome 20 years of the establishment of the Indian Ocean Rim Association reiterated the commitment of its member states to strengthen the blue economy-maritime related economic activities.
At the symposium, concluded with the "Yogyakarta Message", the concept of Blue Economy development was recommended for discussion at the IORA Summit in March 2017.
Yogyakarta Message at the time stated that the priority of the Blue Economy development that each IORA member state must pursue in a comprehensive and sustainable way was not only limited to fisheries, but also to farming, marine biotechnology, marine industry, energy, marine tourism and sea transportation.
Almost all IORA member states have experience in applying the concept of the Blue Economy. Through the concept, marine resource potential, including that of fisheries and energy, must be used in a sustainable way.
The points mentioned in the Yogyakarta Message will be brought to the IORA Summit in March 2017.
The message consists of eleven points which are divided into three main fields of Economic Cooperation, Indian Ocean Architecture Development, and Social and Cultural Cooperation.
The economic cooperation in the Yogyakarta Message talks of trade and investment promotion, improvement in connectivity among member countries to reduce logistical costs, harmonization of tariffs and duties, intensification of investment in human capital, and inclusive development and value chain improvement.
In addition, the IORA member countries should prioritize the comprehensive and sustainable blue economy on fisheries, biotechnology, industry, energy, tourism, and transportation.
As coastal countries, the blue economy is important to increase the collective economy.
Regarding the Indian Ocean Architecture, the IORA countries should keep building open, transparent, inclusive and evolutionary dialogues based on international law.
In the socio-cultural field, the message asserts cultural diplomacy and cross-sectoral synergy among member countries.
At the IORA Summit on March 7, 2017, the heads of state and government would sign the IORA Concord.
Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi said there will be a business meeting as part of the summit conference to be attended by around 250 business leaders from the IORA member countries.
The theme of the Business Summit is "Building Partnership for Sustainable and Equitable Economic Growth".
She said Indonesia offers to host the IORA Summit Meeting as the country wants to show its leadership in the Indian Ocean Rim.
"This is part of a series of leadership Indonesia wants to play in various regions. We have played leading role in Asia and the Pacific.
We also want to show leadership in the Indian Ocean rim , where there has been no good governance. Indonesia, therefore wants to show it leadership in this summit meeting," she said.
IORA is a regional forum that promotes cooperation and closer interaction among countries in the Indian Ocean and focuses on six priority fields: maritime security and safety, trade and investment facilities, fishery management, disaster risk management, academic and science and technology cooperation, and tourism and cultural exchange.
Established in 1997 and headquartered in Mauritius, the IORA, which was formerly known as the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC), currently has 21 members.
IORA's current members are Australia, Bangladesh, the Comoro Islands, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and Somalia.
In addition, there are seven dialogue partner countries, namely the United States, France, Britain, Japan, Germany, China and Egypt.
The association was formed based on the principle of ensuring an open region and strengthen economic cooperation, in particular to facilitate investment, economic promotion and social development in the region.
Indonesia's IORA chairmanship for the 2015-2017 period was considered timely, as President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has been pursuing his maritime axis vision.
Under its chairmanship in the framework of the maritime axis doctrine and economic diplomacy, Indonesia should be able to encourage the IORA to further support trade and investment in the maritime sector.
In addition, Indonesia can also use IORA to support national maritime interests, among other things in the field of fisheries, trade, investment, and connectivity.