The maiden Economic and Business Ministerial Conference of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) got underway here Thursday, specifically aimed at providing an opportunity for the expansion of commercial cooperation through interaction among member States.
Addressing delegates to the two-day conference, the Mauritian Prime Minister, Navin Ramgoolam, said that the forum was in furtherance of a programme involving governments, businesses and the academia as partners in the pursuit of greater cooperation among the countries of the Indian Ocean Rim.
He stressed that it was important to develop international cooperation in a world witnessing unprecedented changes and a major shift in the global geo-political and economic landscape.
Ramgoolam said there was the need to focus on concrete deliverables now that the IOR-ARC had consolidated its institutional base.
“In spite of the crisis affecting many developed countries, most of our member states are experiencing positive growth. The challenge is how to make this growth sustainable and inclusive and, more importantly, how to make the most of available opportunities through joint and coordinated action,” the Prime Minister added.
The Mauritian Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Minister, Arvin Boolell, told the delegates that the conference would give further impetus to trade and investment between member countries of the IOR-ARC at a time when the effects of the financial crisis are still being felt.
“It will equally forge greater ties between the states around the Indian Ocean which included countries of an emerging Asia, and a rapidly emerging Africa,” he said.
Also addressing the delegates, the Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry, Anand Sharma, expressed the hope that the forum would serve as a platform for policy-makers, academia, business leaders to look at the vast potentials that the region can present to the world.
Discussions at the conference are focused on: unlocking the potentials of the services sector in the IOR-ARC region (ICT, Tourism and Financial Sectors); enhancing trade and investment in the IOR-ARC region; creating agri-business linkages, addressing food security and sustainable development; and harnessing the potential of the Ocean Economy.
About 250 delegates from 20 IOR-ARC Member States are attending the conference which will end Friday.