Indian ocean piracy a serious concern, says regional body
NEW DELHI -– Piracy is a serious concern in the Indian Ocean, posing a threat to maritime commerce and the safety of seafarers, the 12th Meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Indian Ocean Rim Association of Regional Cooperation (IORARC) highlighted.
Such a scenario, it said, makes insurance costlier and incurs extra costs to the shipping industry in the Indian Ocean Region.
“Weak governance and instability in parts of the region have contributed to its degeneration into transnational organised crime,” said the 20-member grouping in the communiqué released at the end of the meeting held in Gurgaon, a satellite town of the Delhi National Capital Region.
The geo-strategic importance of the Indian Ocean cannot be underestimated in world trade, particularly when 80 per cent of the world’s seaborne energy trade transits through this part of the globe, India’s External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said.
As global economic growth shifts to Asia, it would occupy even greater salience in the member countries’ strategic perspective, he said at the end of the meeting.
Hence, stability and well-being of the Indian Ocean is critical for global economic prosperity, and even more so for the countries on its rim, he said.
Although there have been several useful regional and multilateral anti-piracy initiatives, the Indian Ocean Region and IORARC should consider ways of engaging with these where feasible and complementing each other’s efforts.
“We would like the IORARC seminar on maritime security scheduled for 2013 to consider concrete proposals for cooperation in the broad area, including institutionalisation of a regional mechanism for continuing exchange of views and monitoring of the situation,” said the communiqué entitled “IORARC at 15 – The Next Decade.”
It said IORARC offers a useful platform for exchanging information on white shipping, and developing legislative frameworks and sharing best practices in coastal security and regulation of fishing activities in coastal waters.
The grouping also called for further development of port and harbour infrastructure in the region. It directed the working group on trade and investment to explore the potential of cooperation in this sector, including investment in and upgrading of shipping infrastructure and logistics chains in the region.
The 15-year-old association accepted its 20th member, the Union of Comoros. Its other members are Australia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
The meeting also saw the inclusion of the United States as the sixth dialogue partner, joining China, Egypt, France, Japan and the United Kingdom. – BERNAMA