Indian Ocean Rim Association meeting in Perth
Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Nomaindiya Mfeketo, lead a South African delegation to the 14th Council of Ministers’ Meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), scheduled for 06-09 October 2014 in Perth, Australia. The IORA is an organization of 20 coastal Member States who share the Indian Ocean.
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface, boasting a coastline of 66,526 km. According to the Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies (2003), the IORA area has 40% of the world’s oil and gas reserves. An estimated 80 percent of the world’s seaborne oil trade transits through the Indian Ocean, largely from west (the Persian Gulf) to the east (China, India, and Japan).
The 14th Council of Ministers’ Meeting deliberated on key aspects such as the Blue Economy, as well as engaging in the six thematic priorities of the Association, namely: Maritime Security and Safety within the IOR Region; Trade and Investment Facilitation; Fisheries Management; Disaster Risk Reduction; Academic and Science and Technology Cooperation; as well as Tourism Promotion and Cultural Exchanges.
IORA covers two strategic priorities of South Africa’s foreign policy, that is, Economic Diplomacy and South-South Co-operation. Economic Diplomacy is captured through Operation Phakisa, which seeks to accelerate South Africa’s economic growth and development in the framework of the National Development Plan. Operation Phakisa specifically focuses on the Ocean Economy, also known as the Blue Economy, an aspect which ties squarely with South Africa’s membership of IORA. In order to strengthen South-South Cooperation, South Africa cooperates with countries and organizations of the South, with a view to creating political, economic and social convergence against poverty, under-development and marginalisation.
Australia continues its role as the Chair of IORA in 2014, before formally handing over to Indonesia at the next Council of Ministers meeting in 2015. South Africa has been endorsed as the next Vice Chair of IORA with effect from 2015-2017 after which it will become the Chair from 2017-2019.
Photo: Unati Ngamntwini