اهمیت ژئو استراتژیک اقیانوس هند در جهان و اتحاديه همكاريهاي منطقه اي كشورهاي حاشيه اقيانوس هند، IOR-ARC

اقیانوس هند سوّمین اقیانوس بزرگ جهان است و ۲۰٪ از سطح کره زمین را پوشانده است. همچنین گرمترین حوزهٔ اقیانوسی جهان به شمار می‌آید (نمونه بارز آن خلیج فارس است، که از شاخه‌های این اقیانوس به‌شمار می‌آید و بر طبق آمار گرمترین ناحیه آبی جهان با ۳۲ درجه سانتیگراد می‌باشد). از جمله مهمترین تاثیرات این اقیانوس ایجاد بادهای باران‌آور موسمی است که در سرتاسر جنوب شبه قاره هند و آسیای جنوب شرقی باعث ایجاد باران‌های فصلی و همچنین جریان‌های آب‌گرم استوایی می‌شود. این اقیانوس از شمال به آسیا، از غرب به آفریقا، از شرق به استرالیا و از جنوب به اقیانوس منجمد جنوبی منتهی می‌شود. مساحت و طول ساحلی کشورهای حاشیه اقیانوس هند 57 هزار کیلومتر است.  تولید ناخالص ملی  کشورهای حاشیه اقیانوس بالغ بر 6 تریلیارد دلار است. آمار 2011  GDP of $6 trillion 

بیشتر از  40 درصد  تجارت جهانی از تنگه مالاکا و 40 درصد نفت خام تولیدی از تنگه هرمز عبور می کند. و 60 درصد عبور کالا و تجارت جهانی در اقیانوس هند  جریان دارد . تنگه مالاکا تنها گذرگاه انرژی برای چین است . 95 تجارت هند و 100 درصد نفت وارده به هند از اقیانوس هند عبور می کند. 90 درصد نفت هند از خلیج فارس تامین می شود. 

با این توجه که انتظار می رود تا سال 2030 نیاز جهانی انرژی 45 درصد افزایش یابد و نیمی از این مطالبه از سوی چین و هند انجام گیرد، عبور 70 درصدی ترافیک تولیدات نفتی از اقیانوس هند شامل خاورمیانه و پاسیفیک ابعاد امنیتی خود را در رابطه با مدیریت انرژی جهان نشان می دهد.

اقیانوس هند 36 کشور را دربرمی گیرد. و 11 کشور نیز اولین دسترسی به دریا را از این لقیانوس دارند مانند نپال- افغانستان- بوتان. 81 درصد استخراج طلا  57 درصد فلز تین و روی 29 درصد منگنز 25 درصد نیکل 77 درصد کهربا رابر طبیعی  65 درصد نفت و 35 درصد گاز  در کشورهای ساحلی این اقیانوس وجود دارد.

 

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۳۷ کشور در کرانه و ۱۷ کشور از آبراهه‌های کوچکتر به این اقیانوس راه دارند. بیشتر این کشورها از کشورهای توسعه‌نیافته و از زمره کشورهایی هستند که اصلاحا کشورهای جنوب نامیده می‌شوند. راه ورود به هفت دریای مهم جهانی و چهار تنگه راهبردی جهان یعنی هرمز، باب‌المندب، مالاکا، و سوئز از این اقیانوس می‌گذرد.

صید ماهی‌های موجود در اقیانوس هند عرصه رقابتی کشورهای ژاپن، چین، کره جنوبی، روسیه، تایوان است. در میان کشورهای کرانه‌ای این اقیانوس دو قدرت اتمی، هند و پاکستان، قرار دارند.

در گزارش سازمان دریانوردی بین‌الملل، اقیانوس هند ناامن‌ترین اقیانوس جهان گزارش شده‌است. بیشتر این ناامنی در قالب دزدی دریایی در کرانه‌های سومالی و تنگه مالاکا رخ می‌دهد.

خلیج ها -تنگه ها و دریاهای کناره اقیانوس عبارتند از :

 دریای عرب- (بحر مکران)

خلیج فارس

دریای سرخ

خلیج عمان

تنگه باب المندب

خلیج کوچ

خلیج خمبات

خلیج بنگال

دریای اندامان

تنگه مالاکا

تنگه موزامبیک

پیچ بزرگ استرالیا

خلیج منار

هند به عنوان مهمترین کشور اقیانوس هند تلاش دارد یک اتحادیه قدرتمند سیاسی اقتصادی و حتی نظامی در اقیانوس هند ایجاد کند. این تشکل “ اتحادیه همکاریهای منطقه ای کشورهای حاشیه اقیانوس هند  ”(IORARC) نام دارد. قبلا بیشتر نشستهای سیاسی و همکاری های منطقه ای  برگزار می کرد  اما  اولین نشست  پاک  اقتصادی تجاری  تحت عنوان  فوروم  وزرای تجارت و اقتصادی کشورهای عضو در ۳-۵ تیر ماه ۱۳۹۲ برگزار شد. هند مصصمم است که این اتحادیه را از سایر اتحادیه های  منطقه ای  مانند آسه آن و ..ASEAN- .COMESA- SADC مهمتر سازد. (پاک اقتصادی یعنی تماما و صرفا اقتصادی)

 

اتحاديه همكاريهاي منطقه اي كشورهاي حاشيه اقيانوس هند  

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اتحاديه همكاريهاي منطقه اي كشورهاي حاشيه اقيانوس هند، IOR-ARC شامل 19 عضو متشكل از كشورهاي استراليا، بنگلادش، هند، اندونزي، جمهوري اسلامي ايران، كنيا، ماداگاسكار، مالزي، موريس، موزامبيك، سيشيل، عمان، سنگاپور، آفريقاي جنوبي، سريلانكا، تانزانيا، تايلند، امارات متحده عربي و يمن مي باشد و 5 كشور چين، مصر، ژاپن، انگليس و فرانسه نيز به عنوان طرف گفتگو با اتحاديه همكاري مي نمايند و سازمان توريسم اقيانوس هند نيز عضو ناظر اين اتحاديه مي باشد.

از لحاظ جغرافیایی، این اتحادیه وسعتی بیش از 5/20 میلیون کیلومتر مربع از سه قاره آسیا، آفریقا و اقیانوسیه را دربرگرفته و جمعیتی نزدیک به 2 میلیارد نفر را در خود جای داده است. استرالیا، هند، ایران و آفریقای جنوبی از وسیع ترین کشورهای اتحادیه IOR-ARC، و هند، اندونزی، بنگلادش و ایران نیز از پرجمعیت ترین کشورهای اتحادیه مذکور به شمار می آیند.

اصول عمده و اهداف کلی حاکم بر اتحادیه IOR-ARC

اتحادیه IOR-ARC بر پایه بهبود و تسریع همکاریهای اقتصادی و گردهمایی نمایندگان دولت، تجار و دانشگاهها بنا شده و با در نظر گرفتن اصل چندجانبه گرایی در جهت گسترش تفاهم و همکاری سودمند دوجانبه از طریق اجماع نظر، نگرش تکاملی و عدم مداخله جویی تلاش نموده و اصولی را در مورد تمام دول عضو بکار خواهد بست  مهمترین آنها عبارتند از:   – احترام به حفظ تمامیت ارضی، استقلال سیاسی و حاکمیت کشورهای عضو، عدم مداخله در امور یکدیگر، همزیستی مسالمت آمیز و رعایت منافع متقابل.

– گردهمایی نمایندگان دولتها و تجار و دانشگاهیان با تأکید بر تقویت روحیه  چندجانبه گرایی که منافع اعضاء برپایه اصل اجماع تضمین شده باشد؛

– در چارچوب اتحادیه یادشده، دول عضو اقدامات کافی به منظور ارتقاء و دستیابی به اهداف را دنبال خواهند کرد و از اتخاذ اقدامات مغایر با اهداف و فعالیتها اجتناب خواهند نمود.

اهداف کلی اتحادیه مذکور نیز برپایه آزادسازی تجاری، تقویت همکاریهای آموزشی، تکنولوژیکی و ایجاد تسهیلات تجاری و سرمایه گذاری با هدف تقویت روابط تجاری و اقتصادی مابین کشورهای عضو تعریف شده است.

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ساختار و تشکیلات اتحادیه:

1- شورای وزيران: مهمترين واحد تصميم گيري مي باشد که رياست آن هر دوسال يكبار تغيير مي كند. اجلاس شوراي وزيران- مرکب از وزيران خارجه کشورهای عضو- به طور معمول  هر  سال تشكيل مي‌گردد. اولين اجلاس وزراء در تاريخ 6 مارس 1997 در موريس و دومين اجلاس  آن در ماه مارس 1999 در موزامبيك تشكيل گرديد. از سال 2005 به مدت سه سال رياست دوره اي اتحاديه  بر عهده جمهوری اسلامی ایران بوده که ششمين، هفتمين و هشتمین نشست شورای وزیران اتحادیه، در فوریه 2006 ، مارس 2007 و می 2008 در تهران برگزار شد. نهمین و دهمين اجلاس شورای وزیرانبه ترتيب  در 25 ژوئن 2009 ( 4 تیر ماه 1388) و 5 اوت 2010 (14 مرداد 1389 ) در صنعا برگزار گردید. یازدهمین اجلاس شورای وزیران در تاریخ 15 نوامبر2011 ( 24 آبان ماه 1390 ) در بنگلور هند برگزار گرديد و رياست اتحاديه از يمن به هند واگذار شد. استرالیا در سالهای 2011 و 2012 به عنوان همکار رئیس دوره ای می باشد و در سال 2013 ریاست اتحادیه را بعهده خواهد گرفت. 

2- كميته مقامات ارشد: این کمیته  شامل نمايندگان رسمي كشورهاي عضو (معاونین وزرای خارجه) مي باشد که طبق اساسنامه اتحادیه، هر زمان كه مناسب تشخيص داده شود تشكيل مي گردد و به اموري چون بررسي نحوه اجراي تصميمات شوراي وزيران, مشخص نمودن اولويتها در همكاريهاي اقتصادي, همكاري با مجمع تجاري و گروه دانشگاهي و بالاخره تهيه گزارشهاي دوره اي به منظور ارائه به شوراي وزيران مي پردازد. تاکنون برگزاری اجلاس مقامات ارشد به صورت سالیانه بوده و در دهمین اجلاس وزرای اتحادیه در سال گذشته مقرر گردید در هر سال دو نشست مقامات ارشد اتحادیه برگزار گردد.

در نشست كميته فرعی مالی بهنگام برگزاری ششمین اجلاس شورای وزیران اتحاديه در اسفند 1384، تشكيل صندوق ويژه (Special Fund) جهت  كمك به اجرايي شدن فاز مطالعاتی پروژه ها و طرحهاي مطروحه در كميته هاي مختلف اتحاديه مورد تصویب قرار گرفت که کشورهای  عمان و هند هر كدام 50 هزار دلار و جمهوري اسلامي ايران نيز مبلغ 75 هزار دلار به صندوق  ويژه اختصاص   داده اند. هند در يازدهمين اجلاس شوراي وزيران يك ميليون دلار به صندوق ويژه اختصاص داد.

3- كميته هاي تخصصي

اتحادیه دارای سه رکن تخصصی میباشد که  توسط مراجع ملی داخلی کشورهای عضو مدیریت میشود و به شرح زیر می باشند:

الف) مجمع تجاري(IORBF):

متشكل از بخشهاي خصوصي و نهادهاي اقتصادي كشورهاي عضو مي باشد. اين مجمع به عنوان يك بازوي مشورتي و اجرائي، نظرات بخشهاي خصوصي را جهت توسعه بيشتر همكاريهاي اقتصادي بين شركتها به اجلاس مقامات ارشد و نهايتاً اجلاس  وزراء ارائه   مي دهد. اتاق بازرگاني و صنايع و معادن ايران مسئوليت پيگيري پروژه هاي اين كميته را برعهده دارد.ترغیب تجارت و همکاریهای مربوط به تقویت ارتباط بین تجارکشورهای عضو از طریق ایجاد پایگاه اینترنتی اطلاعات مربوط به تجار و زمینه های تجاری، اطلاع رسانی برپایی نمایشگاههای تجاری در هریک از کشورهای عضو اتحادیه و پروژه همکاریهای مستقیم بین بانکی بین اعضاء از مهمترین پروژه های این کمیته می باشد. سال جاری هیجدهمین  نشست مجمع تجاری برگزار می شود.

ب) گروه دانشگاهی (IORAG)

وزارت علوم, تحقيقات و فناوري مسئوليت پيگيري و اجراي برنامه ها و پروژه هاي اين گروه را بر عهده دارد. گروه آکادميک مسئوليت برگزاری نشست تبادل دانشگاهی را نيز بر عهده دارد. مهمترین برنامه ها و پروژه های قابل طرح این گروه عبارتند از:

پروژه منابع آلودگی اقیانوس هند، انجام پروژه های مطالعاتی در زمینه تسهیل تجارت و ارتقای همکاریهای تکنولوژیکی با همکاری 5 کشور و به ریاست وزارت علوم و تبادل استاد و دانشجو.

پ) گروه كاري تجارت و سرمايه گذاري(WGTI)

گروه كاري تجارت و سرمايه گذاري يكي از اركان اتحاديه همكاريهاي منطقه اي كشورهاي حاشيه اقيانوس هند بوده و متشكل از نمايندگان دولتي از بخشهاي بازرگاني كشورهاي عضو مي‌باشد. وزارت صنعت، ‌معدن و تجارت  مسئوليت پيگيري و اجراي  برنامه ها و پروژه هاي اين گروه را برعهده دارد. برگزاری نشستهای کارشناسی به منظور نهایی سازی موافقتنامه تجارت ترجیحی میان اعضاء و ارائه فهرست اقلام عمده صادراتی کشورهای عضو جهت برخورداری از  ترجیحات تجاری، پروژه های مربوط به تسهیل همکاریهای شیلات و کشتیرانی میان کشورهای عضو و تشویق سرمایه گذاری، از جمله فعالیتها و  پروژه های مهم در این کمیته به شمار میرود.

ت)دبيرخانه:

دبيرخانه اتحاديه در بندر لوئيس، پايتخت موريس واقـــــع مي باشد.  اما بسیاری از کارها  فوریت دار در نمایندگی یا دبیرخانه موقت در وزارت خارجه هند در دهلی انجام می شود.

 تصدی پست دبيركل (دبیرخانه اتحادیه)  از ابتدای تأسیس تاکنون به ترتیب بر عهده كايلش روحي (موريس)، دوداسلال دوسوروث (موریس)، شمس الدين (سريلانكا)، جناب آقای مرتضی سرمدی از جمهوری اسلامی ایران  ودر حال حاضر آقاي باجیرات  K. V. Bhagirath از هند دبیر کل اتحادیه می باشد. همچنين  به منظور تقویت دبیرخانه، از هند و آفریقای جنوبی دو مدیر اجرایی او را در انجام وظایفش یاری می کنند. در جلسه شورای وزیران  آبان 1390   (11 نوامبر2011) در بنگلور ریاست اتحادیه  به هند و معاونت به استرالیا واگذار شد.

کشورهای عضو اتحادیه کشورهای حاشیه اقیانوس هند عبارتند از :آفریقای جنوبی، هند، جمهوری اسلامی ایران، سنگاپور، مالزی، اندونزی، تایلند، سریلانکا، استرالیا، امارات متحده عربی، عمان، یمن، بنگلادش، کنیا، موریس( مقر اتحادیه) ، تانزانیا، ماداگاسگار، موزامبیک، سیشیل کشورهای چین، ژاپن، مصر، انگلستان و فرانسه و از سال 1391  آمریکا از اعضای ناظر و طرف گفتگو اتحادیه هستند. تاکنون سه مرکز منطقه ای وابسته به اتحادیه شامل مرکز علوم و انتقال فناوری در تهران، واحد حمایت از ماهیگیری و شورای حمل ونقل دریایی در عمان شروع به‌کار کرده است.  یک واحد فنی و پشتیبانی  نیز در دهلی مستقر است.

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مهمترين دلايل تشكيل اتحاديه:

الف) تغيير ساختاري در نظام اقتصادي بين المللي و برقراري روند منطقه گرايي اقتصادي ميان كشورها از طريق ايجاد بلوكهاي اقتصادي منطقه اي، افزايش سرمايه گذاري خارجي و توسعه همكاريهاي تكنولوژيك.

ب) رشد سريع آسياي دور و جنوب شرق آسيا در دهه هاي 1980 و 1990 و گرايش قدرتهاي بزرگ اقتصادي به آسيا – پاسيفيك به عنوان پوياترين منطقه اقتصادي جهان.

پ) سياستهاي برون گراي كشورهای مهم منطقه، در دهه اخير و تلاش اين كشورها جهت هماهنگ شدن با نظام بين الملل از طريق اصلاحات اقتصادي و نهايتاً ايجاد زمينه هاي لازم جهت رشد طبقه متوسط جامعه.

ت) تلاش كشورهاي حوزه اقيانوس هند جهت افزايش تجارت منطقه اي.

دلائل عضويت  ايران در اتحاديه:  

با توجه به قرار داشتن ايران در حاشيه اقيانوس هند و اجتناب ناپذير بودن حضور در اينگونه تشكيلات به لحاظ تأثيرپذيري از قوانيني كه وضع ميشود و همچنين سياست توسعه روابط با كشور‌هاي مهم آسيا كه در اين مجموعه عضويت دارند و اصولاً تركيب متفاوت كشورهاي عضو كه اغلب داراي روابط مهم اقتصادي با ايران بوده و در منطقه هم تأثيرگذار ميباشند، اهميت حضور جمهوري اسلامي ايران در اين گونه سازمانها را به عنوان يك سياست اصولي جهت دستيابي به بازارهاي جديد (براي توسعه صادرات غير نفتي) و استفاده از فرصتها جهت ايفاي نقش مناسب در صحنه مبادلات منطقه اي و جهاني و  تلفیق دو مفهوم دیپلماسی اقتصادی و دیپلماسی منطقه ای را نشان می دهد.

اجلاس هشتم در تهران  

هشتمين اجلاس شوراي وزيران اتحاديه كشورهاي اقيانوس هند  15 ارديبهشت 1387 در ایران برگزار شد.

  تشكيل صندوق همكاري هاي اقتصادي، گسترش شبكه هاي بانكي، توسعه زيرساخت هاي ارتباطي، انعقاد موافقت نامه هاي تجاري ، تشويق سرمايه گذاري هاي خارجي، همكاري هاي علمي و فني و تبادل استاد و دانشجو مي تواند اتحاديه همكاري هاي اقتصادي كشور هاي حاشيه اقيانوس هند را به الگوي موفقي از همكاري هاي منطقه اي تبديل كند.

اجلاس یازدهم 1390 آبان –  بنگلور هند

در یازدهمین اجلاس شورای وزیران اتحادیه همکاری‌های منطقه‌ای حاشیه اقیانوس هند که با حضور وزرا و مقامات ارشد 19 کشور عضو و 5 کشور عضو ناظر  طرف گفتگوی اتحادیه برگزارشد، مرتضی سرمدی دبیر کل ایرانی اتحادیه پس از سه سال پست خود را به دبیر کل جدید بهاجی رات از هند واگذار کرد. همچنین سیشیل که از عضویت اتحادیه خارج گردیده بود دوباره به اتحادیه پیوست. ریاست اتحادیه در این اجلاس از یمن به هند واگذار گردید. همچنین استرالیا در دو سال ریاست هند نقش همکار رییس را ایفا می‌کند. در نشست مذکور 50 هزار دلار از صندوق ویژه اتحادیه به مرکز علوم و انتقال فناوری در کشورمان اختصاص یافت.

این مرکز وابسته به اتحادیه مذکور بوده و همکاریهای علمی و فناوری بین کشورهای عضو را تعقیب می کند. در حال حاضر مرکز فعالترین بخش اتحادیه می باشد.

اتحادیه دارای 19 کشور عضو از سه قاره آسیا، افریقا و اقیانوسیه می باشد که بیش از 2 میلیارد نفر جمعیت جهان و 5/20 میلیون کیلومتر مربع وسعت دارد.

اجلاس دوازدهم در گورگائون- دهلی . آبان 1391 

 مهمترین تحول این اجلاس پذیرش کشور کامرون به عضویت و همچنین پذیرش  عضویت آمریکا به عنوان عضو ناظر و یا شریک گفتگوها بود.

قانون عضويت دولت جمهوري اسلامي ايران در اتحاديه همكاري منطقه‌اي كشورهاي حاشيه‌ اقيانوس هند»

 در جلسه علني روز يكشنبه مورخ نهم بهمن ماه يكهزار و سيصد و نود مجلس شوراي اسلامي تصويب و در تاريخ 26/11/1390 به تاييد شوراي نگهبان رسيده و طي نامه شماره 74700/173 مورخ 9/12/1390 مجلس شوراي اسلامي واصل و جهت اجراء ابلاغ گردیده است. گفتنی است که برای استفاده عموم فارسی زبانان یک سرفصل در همین موضوع  با نمودار و ساختار این اتحادیه در ویکیپدیا توسط کارشناس مطالعاتی اجرا شده و قابل دسترس عموم می باشد.

دکترمحمد  عجــــــم

  IOR-ARC member states
  IOR-ARC dialogue partnersPublished: July 5, 2013 23:48 IST |

Next big idea in the Indian Ocean

Nirupama Subramanian

File:Silk route.jpg

Transfer of technology and “building capacity” in countries that needed them were two themes that came up repeatedly

A free-trade area in the Indian Ocean may be a vision too far, but the big idea to emerge from a two-day regional conference was that economic co-operation in the littoral cannot be inward looking and must become a springboard for connecting with existing trade communities in Asia and Africa for its full potential to be realised.
The Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Co-operation (IORARC) has 20 members as diverse and far apart as Iran and Australia. As Commerce and Industries Minister Anand Sharma, who represented India at the conference, put it, the group embraces five distinct regions, and with them distinct regional economic communities — ASEAN in South East Asia, SAARC in South Asia, GCC in the Gulf, SADC and COMESA in southern Africa, to mention just a few.
In keeping with this, the communiqué at the end of IORARC’s first Economic and Business Conference committed the group formally to the concept of “open regionalism”.
That means that while member countries will be encouraged to bring down barriers to doing trade with each other, they can continue to be part of other regional trade groups with different arrangements. In turn, IORARC can leverage this connectivity for engagement with these organisations.
For instance, Mauritius, a founding member of IORARC, and an enthusiastic driver of Indian Ocean economic co-operation, is also a member of COMESA and SADC. Next week, it hosts a trilateral these two organisations and the East African Community.

Connectivity

Several speakers at the conference underlined the potential for connectivity between IORARC and regional economic communities, including Mr. Sharma, Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Regional Integration Arvin Boollel.
But IORARC is an unwieldy organisation of countries at different levels on the economic development scale. Four of its members are in the LDC category. Though this was a ministerial level conference that also brought together business representatives, several countries were represented only by officials, and several countries were conspicuous for not sending any business delegations.
According to the communiqué, a Work Program in Trade Facilitation has been initiated by member states, through which it is hoped that intra-IORARC trade and commerce will pick up.

Minimising trade barriers

Besides urging members to “minimise” trade barriers to facilitate intra-IORARC trade, it also urged member states to harmonise trade practices in line with international norms.
Some key areas in which the IORARC members hope for co-operation from each other are in tariffs, the food sector, standards, in setting up regional value chains, mining, pharmaceuticals and traditional medicine, and co-ordination among its EXIM banks.
This was the first time that the IORAC was bringing business delegations together and according to Ficci head Naina Lal Kidwai, there were more than 150 B2B (business to business) interactions. The big news of the day was that a Mauritius company tied up a $ 1 m transfer of technology contract with an Indian pharma company in the course of these interactions.
Indeed, transfer of technology and “building capacity” in countries that needed them, were two themes that came up repeatedly.
IORARC also hopes that member-states will soon identify areas in which they co-operate to harness the Indian Ocean’s resources. One of the sectors that was earnestly discussed was energy security. Minister Sharma underlined how the 57,000-km coastline that IORARC countries together could boast, was conducive for harvesting wind energy.
But, as the Mauritius foreign minister pointed out, what was required was uninterrupted energy supply, and there was no better model for this than agreement for supply of petroleum products to Mauritius by India’s Mangalore Petroleum Refineries Limited, which ensured “predictability of supply”. “This is an example of what IORAC can do,” Mr. Boollel said.
Mauritius hosts maiden Indian Ocean regional Economic, Business ministerial confab
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.

 

A round table in the Indian Ocean

Nirupama Subramanian

Nations in the vast littoral are seeking to harness common stakes to enhance ties

Seeking to leverage the growing strategic importance of the Indian Ocean and give new purpose to their 15-year-old regional association, countries in its littoral spanning three continents have launched an ambitious effort to find a common economic agenda.
Despite the challenges inherent in this task, ministers, officials and business delegations from the 20 countries of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation, who began a two-day meeting in Mauritius on Thursday, were optimistic that their common stakes in the region could lead to successful economic cooperation.
The spirit of what they had set out do was perhaps best captured by Taira Masaaki — Parliamentary Vice Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry in Japan — who is a dialogue partner of the IORARC. He gave the example of his country’s automotive industry working through a supply chain that transcends national borders and promotes integration in its own way.
“The parts and components manufactured in Thailand and Indonesia are assembled in India and Australia and sold in Africa and the Middle East,” Mr. Masaaki said as he highlighted Japan’s interest in the IORARC’s agenda.
The reality checks came from Ficci’s Naina Lal Kidwai, who is leading the Indian business delegation. Tariffs, import restrictions on particular products, and the absence of a clearing mechanism for trade in local currencies, were some of the challenges for increasing trade in the region, she noted.
Ms. Kidwai also spoke about the need to diversify and expand the exports basket for better trading opportunities.
Minister of Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma, who is leading the Indian delegation, spoke of how the balance of world economic growth had shifted from the “North-West axis” to the global south, particularly the Asia-Pacific region.
This put the IORARC countries, with their combined GDP of $6 trillion (in 2011), in an advantageous position to create new pathways of cooperation not only among member-states, but with other regions, for the “shared benefit of economic development”.
Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam, who was a founding member of the IORARC back in 1997, also sounded a note of urgency about the need for the IORARC, whose members range from Australia to countries in Africa and Asia, to take up the challenge.
Pointing to the proliferation of free trade agreements across the world — the trans-Pacific Partnership, and the recent decision by the EU and the United States to negotiate a Trade and Investment Partnership — Mr. Ramgoolam warned of being sidelined by the new economic map of the world.
“Can we afford to be marginalised within the emerging trade and economic configuration that will characterise the 21st century global trade and economic architecture? Of course not. Going on as before is not an option,” he said in his inaugural speech.
The uneasiness among some member-countries about an IORARC free-trade area, as some were already in such agreements with other countries, Mr. Ramgoolam said, should not prevent the group “from exploring the best possible arrangements” to foster trade and investment “in a structured manner and with clear commitment”.
He urged the group to explore the possibility of adopting “a variable geometry approach”.
Mauritius — the co-host of the event along with the IORARC chair India — is particularly keen to position itself as the main platform for the increasing financial investment in Africa. Foreign Minister Arvin Boolell spoke of a proposal to set up trade and investment promotion agencies on the IORARC platform.
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Evolving Strategic Competition in the Indian Ocean
Salman Rafi Sheikh / Iran Review

“The Indian Ocean area will be the true nexus of world powers and conflict in the coming years. It is here that the fight for democracy, energy independence and religious freedom will be lost or won.” (Robert D. Kaplan)

The Indian ocean once regarded as a ‘neglected ocean’ has, today, become the hub of political, strategic and economic activities because of the presence of conventional and nuclear vessels of the major powers in the area and because of its own economic and strategic significance. The Indian Ocean has 36 States around its littoral belt. In addition, there are eleven hinterland states e.g, Nepal and Afghanistan, which though landlocked, are keenly interested in the Indian Ocean politics and trade. The ocean contains several important minerals: 80.7% of world extraction of gold, 56.6 % of Tin, 28.5 % of manganese, 25.2 % nickel and 77.3% natural rubber. Highest tonnage of the world goods, 65% of world oil, and 35% of the gas, located in the littoral states, passes through it. The region today is an arena of contemporary geopolitics. Strategically the Indian Ocean occupies a crucial importance, especially because of the presence of major powers in the region and potential of the regional powers, three being nuclear powered: Pakistan, China and India. That is why key regional powers are placing great reliance on the deployment of fleet missile submarines and SLBMs for second strike capability as well as for maintain balance of power in order to deter hegemony of any power whether territorial or extra-territorial. USA has established its naval base in the Indian Ocean at Diego Garcia which poses a threat to the regional states as well as stands to protect the US’ vital interests in the region. Political relations in and around the Indian Ocean can have significant implications for the US as far as its new “Asia Pivot” strategy is concerned. The new US Strategic Guidance 2012 has linked the US economy and security to developments in the Indian Ocean, elevating India to the position of a long-term strategic partner serving “as a regional anchor” in the region. The official documents also declare Iran and China as two potential states most susceptible to using asymmetrical means to counter US’ areas of interest. The Indo-US collusion in the Indian Ocean has made Pakistan and China wary of their semi-hostile overtures, hence ensuing strategic competition in the region and employment of resource-dependent strategies to counteract and counterbalance the enemy state’s manoeuvers.

World is said to be entering Geo-energy era in which questions of energy security (security of demand and security of supply) will condition both inter-state relations and may lead to re-configuration of world power hierarchy. Energy security will play decisive role in creating conflict and co-operation situations. The Country which holds paramount position in the Indian Ocean is likely to control the flow of energy not only to the East Asia, the future center of the world economic power, but also to other regions. Currently, USA, the world’s mightiest naval power is dominating the region and the regional states, especially China, is trying to balance US power in the region in order to protect its interests with regard to its growing economy and energy needs. The question why it is so important to dominate the Indian Ocean can also be answered by highlighting the fact that oil is shipped from the Persian Gulf to almost entire world via the Indian Ocean, and through the Straits of Malacca to China, Korea, and Japan. If another [power] holds the lifeline, oil-importing countries will suffer severe blows. Because [the U.S.] strategy is to hold sway over the oil route, the US has in recent years showered attentions on India, Vietnam, and Singapore, all of which lie on that route.

Pakistan’s only coastline is on the Indian Ocean,Makran sea  which is therefore a vital access point for trade and specifically for energy supply. Pakistan’s major interests in the Indian Ocean and Makran sea(Arabian sea) are preventing India from dominating the areas closest to Pakistan itself, and protecting its vital import and export routes. Pakistan by itself can do relatively little about India’s naval presence in the Indian Ocean; therefore, it has turned to two things: developing its naval power and having large external balancers. The United States is probably not looked on by Pakistan as a reliable partner in shoring up its Indian Ocean security, especially in light of the high profile of the Indian Ocean in the growing U.S. security dialogue with India. The more important balancer is China. Pakistan stands to benefit from the “string of pearls,” and has therefore handed over the operational rights to China. Pakistan’s economic stake in Indian Ocean security, like India’s, is considerable: its fragile balance of payments is dependent on sea trade; 95% of its trade and 100% of its oil import is transported through the Indian Ocean. As such Pakistan’s main goal is to neutralize India as well as secure its economic and Energy interests and at the moment it is doing in alliance with China and at the same time improving its Naval and military power.

As the Indian Ocean is a hub of energy, India is seeking to enhance its involvement in the region, seeking to increase its influence from the Plateau of Iran to the Gulf of Thailand. India is soon to become the world’s fourth-largest energy consumer, after the United States, China, and Japan — is dependent on oil for roughly 33 percent of its energy needs, 65 percent of which it imports, and 90 percent of its oil imports could soon come from the Persian Gulf. Another reason behind developing naval power is India’s “Hormuz dilemma,” its dependence on imports passing through the strait, close to the shores of Pakistan’s Makran coast, where the Chinese are helping the Pakistanis develop deep-water ports. To protect its vital interest as well as to establish itself as a super-power, India is enlarging its navy in the same spirit. With its 155 warships, the Indian navy is already one of the world’s largest, and it expects to add three nuclear-powered submarines and three aircraft carriers to its arsenal by 2015, making India’s a Blue Water Navy. The critical objectives of India in establishing its navy are not economic and security but also “strategic autonomy” this policy is in harmony with Indian goal of achieving the super power status and it is in this context that we see India ever now and then opposing the presence of extra regional powers in the Indian Ocean. For India, presence of extra regional powers creates tension in the region which is detrimental to its sensitive interests, India wants to replace those powers and make it dominant in the region. Among the latest developments which Indian Navy has effected is the inauguration of the Indian Navy’s latest naval base – INS Dweeprakshak – in the Lakshadweep Islands under the Southern Naval Command on 1st of May 2102. It is meant to face Chinese ‘string of pearls’ strategy to cut-off India from the other nations of the Indian Ocean. We can gauge the extent of India’s anxiety to project itself as an emerging super power by looking at its spending in this aspect of power. India is planning to spend almost $45 billion over the next 20 years on 103 new warships, including destroyers and nuclear submarines. By comparison, China’s investment over the same period is projected to be around $25 billion for 135 vessels.

Indeed, as India extends its influence east and west on land and at sea, it is bumping into China which is also concerned about protecting its interests throughout the region and is expanding its reach. The paramount concern animating Chinese interests in the Indian Ocean is energy security, an imperative that has been widely debated in media and academic studies. It is facing “Malacca Dilemma” (that is China’s too much dependence on this strait and conversely USA’s objective to control this strait politically to manipulate China’s energy needs.) It is no exaggeration to say that whoever controls the Strait of Malacca will also have a stranglehold on the energy route of China. Excessive reliance on this strait has brought an important potential threat to China’s energy security. The Straits of Malacca is without question a crucial sea route that will enable the United States to seize geopolitical superiority, restrict the rise of major powers, and control the flow of the world’s energy. The Chinese government hopes to eventually be able to partly bypass that strait by transporting oil and other energy products via roads and pipelines from ports on the Indian Ocean into the heart of China. The Chinese government has already adopted a “string of pearls” strategy for the Indian Ocean, which consists of setting up a series of ports in friendly countries along the ocean’s northern seaboard like, Gwadar, Pakistan, a port in Pasni, Pakistan, 75 miles east of Gwadar, which is to be joined to the Gwadar facility by a new highway; a fueling station on the southern coast of Sri Lanka; and a container facility with extensive naval and commercial access in Chittagong, Bangladesh. The Chinese government is also envisioning a canal across the Isthmus of Kra, in Thailand, to link the Indian Ocean to China’s Pacific coast — a project on the scale of the Panama Canal and one that could further tip Asia’s balance of power in China’s favor by giving China’s burgeoning navy and commercial maritime fleet easy access to a vast oceanic continuum stretching all the way from East Africa to Japan and the Korean Peninsula. Besides this strategy, China is cultivating its relations with the countries of the region through aid, trade and defense agreements. One important factor pushing China to built alternative routes is the fact that Indian navy, soon to be the third largest in the world after those of the United States and China, will function as an antidote to Chinese military expansion. PLA Navy has also been expanding itself and reconfiguring its role in view of changing circumstances and the growing importance of the Indian Ocean. The PLA Navy has progressively increased its maritime influence by transforming itself from a coastal defence navy to a force capable of sustained open-ocean operations, which is reasonably commensurate with China’s super-power status.

One of the biggest Challenges USA is facing in the world politics is in the Indian Ocean where both China and India are emerging as the major maritime and economic powers and posing challenge to USA’s many decades long hegemony. The task of the U.S. Navy will therefore be to quietly leverage the sea power of its closest allies — India in the Indian Ocean and Japan in the western Pacific — to set limits on China’s expansion. One of the major aims of USA is to reduce and slow down the increasing Chinese FDI in the regional countries and excite the areas of conflict. As it is obvious, USA is exciting regional states’ interests to obstruct China’s expansion in the South China Sea as well as in East China Sea to limit Chinese FDI and push countries away from Chinese Camp. USA does not want the region to be dominated by any single state because that would seriously jeopardize USA’s long term economic interests as well as disturb the balance of power in the region. This is specially in view of the shifting of economic center from the west to the east. If controlled by any [Asian] nation, key choke points in the Indian Ocean, including the Strait of Malacca, the Strait of Hormuz, and Bab el Mandeb, could tilt the balance of trade further towards Asia. Piracy in the Strait of Malacca demonstrates what can happen when free and secure access through a choke point cannot be ensured. But USA’s dilemma is that it cannot prevent or block supply to China and India since it would dampen world economy, but it can monopolize energy supply by controlling Central Asian states. Another Dilemma of USA is that it cannot altogether sideline Chinese Navy. USA seizes every opportunity to incorporate China’s navy into international alliances; as U.S.-Chinese understanding at sea is crucial for the stabilization of world politics in the twenty-first century. Nevertheless, to achieve objectives in the region, USA plays upon the India-china problem to its own advantage. It continues to engage India with itself as part of its strategy of encircling China. As a part of its strategy, it encourages India to establish relations with South-Eastern and Central Asian states. Its purpose is to contain Chinese influence. USA is also enhancing its naval presence in the region which is recognition of the fact that this region is gaining central position in world political affairs. It is in this context that the US’ “Asia pivot” strategic shift should be understood and analyzed.

Iran is the other emerging power of the Indian Ocean with control of the most crucial Strait of Hormuz, a transit passage which can potentially be the cause of triggering conflict in the region. As highlighted above, this transit route is responsible for the supply of oil to most of the world. Where control of this route is strategically significant for US, it is arguably a more crucial for Iran to hold its control over it and use it as a tool in extending its power as well as use it as leverage to bargain with USA and its allies over Iran’s nuclear issue. Whether or not Iran would choose to block the Strait is a moot question; however, it is obvious in many of Iran’s official statements that Iran does consider this option as practically viable as far as maintenance of deterrence is concerned. Responding to the onset of the European Union’s oil embargo with a defiant show of military strength and renewed threats to close the Strait of Hormuz, Iran signaled to the West that it would not be a passive victim of economic warfare. On the other hand, preserving the security in the Strait of Hormuz is a priority of Iran’s defensive deterrence strategy in the Persian Gulf. Iran’s policy there would certainly be a measured and rational one, based on taking full responsibility and taking into account the region’s geo-political realities, but in no way letting others jeopardizing its legitimate interests.

The discussion shows that Indian Ocean has assumed a central place in the strategies of the major powers of the world and the regional powers also. Like a microcosm of the world at large, the Indian Ocean region is developing into an area of both “ferociously guarded sovereignty” (with fast-growing economies and militaries) and “astonishing interdependence” (with its pipelines and land and sea routes). And for the first time since the Portuguese onslaught in the region in the early sixteenth century, the West’s power there is in decline, however subtly and relatively. Although USA is trying to give it a new boost and reconfiguring it, it might not be able to assert its dominant position in the region. The Indians and the Chinese are likely to enter into a dynamic great-power rivalry in these waters, with their economic interests as major trading partners locking them in an uncomfortable embrace; while Pakistan would continue to assert its position by establishing alliance with China and by building its own capacity, especially naval power. In view of the circumstances and geo-political realities, USA will have to change its posture from that of dominance to a sort of indispensable relationship with the regional powers, including Iran and Pakistan. It may, in future, act as a ‘balancer’ between China and India. What is becoming obvious as things unfold is that no single state would be able to dominate the region singularly; therefore, a sort of multilateral set up will have to be established whereby each country can “equitably” pursue its goals.

*The author is a research-analyst of International and Pakistan affairs. He can be contacted at salmanrafisheikh@hotmail.com

 

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