The maiden edition of the Economic and Business ministerial conference of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) opens here Thursday.
It will bring together policy planners, decision makers of government agencies and captains of trade and industry, private sector businesses with the view to strengthening trade relations in the area, according to the Mauritian Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade Minister, Arvin Boolell.
He said that about 18 Ministers and 250 delegates from 20 IOR-ARC Member-States are expected to attend.
The IOR-ARC, launched in 1997 in Mauritius, seeks to promote the sustained growth and balanced development of the region and of the Member States, and to create common grounds for regional cooperation, amongst others.
Its Member-States are Australia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Comoros.
China, Egypt, France, Japan, UK and the United States are dialogue partner States.
Boolell said Wednesday that the conference aims at providing an opportunity for the expansion of commercial cooperation through interaction among the private sectors of Member States.
Several issues for discussion include unlocking the potential of the services sector and 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.
Boolell recalled that there was a time when the IOR-ARC was viewed as a talk shop.
”Now, it has travelled a long way and we can say with might and pride that today it has become an organisation to be reckoned with by 20 Member States and six dialogue states and others which have the observer’s status,” the minister emphasised.
Also speaking, the Mauritian Industry and Commerce Minister, Cader Sayed-Hossen, said Member States of the IOR-ARC represent one third of the world’s population and have an aggregate GDP of US$ 6.5 trillion.
”FDI inflows into IOR-ARC countries over the past decade have been two and half times more than inflows of FDI globally which really means that IOR-ARC Member States are important economic stakeholders globally,” he stressed.