04 October 2016
The recent inaugural Indian Ocean Conference (IOC 2016) while well-timed and successful in projecting India’s soft power, failed to come up with concrete recommendations to re-energise trade within the region. This should be a key focus of IOC 2017.
The recent India-led inaugural Indian Ocean Conference (IOC 2016) held in Singapore on 1-2 September was well-timed – just when mistrust of China has increased in the region because of its actions in the South China Sea. It was also successful in projecting India’s soft power in the East Asian region. However, although an entire session was devoted to “commerce” (international trade and investment issues), the Conference failed to come up with concrete recommendations to re-energise trade integration among the 21-member Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA). This should be a key focus of IOC 2017 to be held in Sri Lanka.
As is well-known, in the bygone era the Indian Ocean was an active thoroughfare of commercial and religious traffic. Subsequently during the colonial period, trade on the Indian Ocean was fragmented. Presently, intra-regional trade among the IORA members is about 25 per cent of their total trade. But a large chunk of this is trade between ASEAN and Australia: Trade among other IORA members is relatively low. How can intra-regional trade among IORA members be re-energised?
… Pradumna B. Rana is Associate Professor and Coordinator of the International Political Economy Programme in the Centre for Multilateralism Studies (CMS) at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
CMS / Online
Last updated on 05/10/2016