IORA meeting opens with UAE pledge to ‘reinvigorate’ goal of an IORA Development Fund

  • iora meeting opens with uae pledge to ‘reinvigorate’ goal of an iora development fund 1
  • iora meeting opens with uae pledge to ‘reinvigorate’ goal of an iora development fund 2

ABU DHABI, 7th November, 2019 (WAM) -- The 19th meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Indian Ocean Rim Association, IORA, opened here today with the United Arab Emirates taking over from South Africa as the chairman for the next two years and pledging to work to "reinvigorate" the goal of creating an IORA Development Fund.

In an inaugural speech, Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, Minister of State, told Ministers and other delegates that the UAE is "incredibly proud to be hosting and chairing IORA, the only Ministerial-level organisation that focuses purely on the Indian Ocean region."

As part of efforts to promote prosperity in the Indian Ocean region during its chairmanship, Al Sayegh said, "The UAE has chosen to focus on the three key priority areas of Maritime Safety and Security, Trade and Investment Facilitation and Tourism and Cultural Exchange, as well as the two focus areas of the Blue Economy and Women’s Economic Empowerment."

"To further underline our commitment to promoting the role of IORA", he added, "it is with great pleasure that I announce our intention to reinvigorate and advance one of IORA’s long-held goals - an IORA Development Fund. It is the UAE’s firm belief that such a fund is essential in delivering on the great economic potential of the Indian Ocean Rim that we have all talked about for so long. "

The meeting is being held with the theme of "Promoting a Shared Destiny and Path to Prosperity in the Indian Ocean." Its latest member, The Maldives, which joined last year, signed the Instrument of Acceptance of the IORA agreement during the opening session.

IORA has 22 member nations and nine dialogue partners, all of whom, Al Sayegh noted, are "bound together by growing economic and trade linkages, and a shared interest in promoting prosperity, peace, and stability within the Indian Ocean region." its secretariat is based in Mauritius.

At today’s meeting, Indonesia, IORA Chairman from 2015 to 2017, stepped down from the ‘Troika’ guiding the association’s work, being replaced by Bangladesh, which will succeed the UAE as IORA Chairman in 2021.

The full text of the Minister’s speech follows.

"Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen, I am honoured to welcome you to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, for the 19th Council of Ministers’ Meeting.

I would like to extend a special welcome to the Ministers and heads of delegation attending, and to express my sincere appreciation to the Republic of Indonesia and the Republic of South Africa, whom we have worked closely with as part of the Troika.

As Indonesia departs the Troika and continues its active role in Indian Ocean diplomacy, we welcome the People’s Republic of Bangladesh as the new Vice Chair. We look forward to working closely with Bangladesh at all levels to advance cooperation within IORA.

I would also like to extend my sincere thanks to IORA Secretary-General Ambassador Dr. Nomvuyo Nokwe who has worked tirelessly to manage the IORA Secretariat and support the implementation of the Chair’s vision for IORA. I would also like to thank Minister of International Relations of South Africa, Her Excellency Dr. Naledi Pandor, for her country’s achievements in elevating the status of IORA internationally, as well as the concrete progress made in the establishment of the Working Group on Maritime Safety and Security, and the implementation of a Memorandum of Understanding on Search and Rescue.

I would like to welcome the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Maldives, His Excellency Abdulla Shahid. We are honoured to welcome The Maldives as the latest member of IORA, and we are pleased to have their first participation in the Council of Ministers.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Twenty-two years ago, when IORA was officially launched in the Republic of Mauritius, close cooperation amongst our distant and diverse nations would have been unthinkable. Now, it would seem, anything is possible.

As the UAE takes over the chairing responsibilities for IORA, I hope that we can consolidate and build upon the Association’s many successes. We are incredibly proud to be hosting and chairing IORA, the only Ministerial-level organisation that focuses purely on the Indian Ocean region. IORA brings together 22 member nations and nine dialogue partners, bound together by growing economic and trade linkages, and a shared interest in promoting prosperity, peace, and stability within the Indian Ocean region.

That being said, the UAE’s Chairmanship will drive forward IORA under the theme of "Promoting a Shared Destiny and Path to Prosperity in the Indian Ocean."

We have chosen and embraced this theme in the hope of forming a new narrative for the region - one of integration and understanding that seeks to take advantage of the opportunities presented by common interests, and diverse but complementary demographic and economic strengths.

As part of our efforts to promote prosperity in the Indian Ocean, the UAE has chosen to focus on the three key priority areas of Maritime Safety and Security, Trade and Investment Facilitation and Tourism and Cultural Exchange, as well as the two focus areas of the Blue Economy and Women’s Economic Empowerment.

To further underline our commitment to promoting the role of IORA, it is with great pleasure that I announce our intention to reinvigorate and advance one of IORA’s long-held goals - an IORA Development Fund. It is the UAE’s firm belief that such a fund is essential in delivering on the great economic potential of the Indian Ocean Rim that we have all talked about for so long.

It is time for all of us to work together to build a better future for this region, and to hasten development with a particular focus on the least developed countries of the Indian Ocean Rim.

We understand that the great distances between us come with diverse economic development imperatives and areas of expertise. To leverage this strength in diversity, the UAE calls on Member States to contribute to the design and implementation of this fund with their expertise and funding.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The UAE wishes to leave a lasting legacy for IORA. A legacy that not only allows IORA to fulfil its potential as a globally significant regional organization, but one that brings our countries together in the spirit of cooperation.

As we look to the agenda of the 19th Council of Ministers’ Meeting today, it is my hope that we can work together to find solutions to common challenges in trade and investment, strengthen dialogue on the security and safety of the Indian Ocean, and continue to make positive progress in fulfilling IORA’s broader regional goals.

Once again, welcome to Abu Dhabi, and I look forward to working closely with each of you to contribute to building a peaceful and prosperous Indian Ocean.

Thank you."

WAM/PH

[Image Credit: IORA]

WAM/Esraa Ismail