Public Diplomacy

Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Co-operation (IOR-ARC)

October 16, 2012

IOR-ARC, a regional cooperation initiative of the Indian Ocean Rim countries, was established in Mauritius in March 1997 with the aim of promoting economic and technical cooperation. IOR-ARC is the only pan-Indian ocean grouping. It brings together countries from three continents having different sizes, economic strengths, and a wide diversity of languages, cultures. It aims to create a platform for trade, socio-economic and cultural cooperation in the Indian Ocean rim area, which constitutes a population of about two billion people. The Indian Ocean Rim is rich in strategic and precious minerals, metals and other natural resources, marine resources and energy, all of which can be sourced from Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ), continental shelves and the deep seabed.

Presently it has 19 members- Australia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Malaysia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, UAE and Yemen. There are five Dialogue Partners namely China, Egypt, France, Japan and UK and two Observers namely, Indian Ocean Research Group (IORG) and Indian Ocean Tourism Organisation (IOTO), Oman.

The objectives of the Association are as follows:

  • To promote the sustained growth and balanced development of the region and of the Member States, and to create common ground for regional economic co-operation.
  • To focus on those areas of economic co-operation which provide maximum opportunities to develop shared interests and reap mutual benefits.
  • To explore all possibilities and avenues for trade liberalisation, to remove impediments to, and lower barriers towards, freer and enhanced flow of goods, services, investment, and technology within the region.
  • To encourage close interaction of trade and industry, academic institutions, scholars and the peoples of the Member States without any discrimination among Member States and without prejudice to obligations under other regional economic and trade co-operation arrangements.
  • To strengthen co-operation and dialogue among Member States in international fora on global economic issues, and where desirable to develop shared strategies and take common positions in the international fora on issues of mutual interest; and
  • To promote co-operation in development of human resources, particularly through closer linkages among training institutions, universities and other specialised institutions of the Member States.

The Association has its own Charter and guidelines to include projects in its Work Programme.


The apex body of the IOR-ARC is the Council of (Foreign) Ministers (COM). The meeting of the COM is preceded by the meetings of the Indian Ocean Rim Academic Group (IORAG), Indian Ocean Rim Business Forum (IORBF), Working Group on Trade and Investment (WGTI), and the Committee of Senior Officials (CSO). The Secretariat of IOR-ARC is located at Port Louis, Mauritius.

Other structures include:

  • An IOR-ARC Special Fund, established in August 2004 to assist, support and encourage facilitation and promotion of economic cooperation activities, intellectual exchanges, studies and surveys or any other academic research, entrepreneurial or intellectual exercise and in capacity-building at national and/or regional level to support implementation of projects, programmes, and activities in furtherance of the IOR-ARC objectives.
  • Routine meetings are held at the level of Heads of Missions of IOR-ARC countries, based in Pretoria. This Working Group of Heads of Mission (WGHM) takes stock of progress on issues and suggests ideas for the way forward. Thirteen meetings of this Working Group have taken place so far.
  • Fisheries Support Unit (FSU), established in Oman, is envisaged to play an important role in enhancing the cooperation within the fisheries sector of IOR-ARC, better utilization of the fisheries resources, expertise exchange and conducting joint research activities.
  • Regional Centre for Science and Transfer of Technology (RCSTT), established in 2008 in Tehran, has the status of a subsidiary body under IOR-ARC.
  • Maritime Transport Council (MTC) was adopted at the 10th meeting of COM in Sana'a Yemen in 2010. The proposed MTC is a regional specialized agency that promotes and defends the interests of member States to facilitate maritime transport. It strives towards strengthening of the maritime transport cooperation in the IOR-ARC region.

Main decisions of the 11th Meeting of the Council of Ministers:

The 11th meeting of COM was held in Bengaluru on 15 November 2011 where India assumed Chair of IOR-ARC and Australia assumed the Vice Chair. India worked with other members to build consensus on themes of contemporary relevance to all members and for IOR-ARC to focus on in the coming years. Six priority areas were identified to take forward the cooperation under IOR-ARC: (i) Maritime Safety and Security; (ii) Trade and Investment Facilitation; (iii) Fisheries Management; (iv) Disaster Risk Reduction; (v) Academic and S&T Cooperation; and (vi) Tourism Promotion and Cultural Exchanges.

Bengaluru Communiqué 2011abc.pdf (1 MB)

12th IOR-ARC Council of Ministers Meeting

The 12th IOR-ARC Council of Ministers meeting will take place in Gurgaon on November 2, 2012. This would be the Second Council of Ministers Meeting of IOR-ARC under India's Chairmanship and would provide an opportunity to take stock of the progress that the Association has made since the meeting in Bengaluru, and explore future directions and initiatives that can serve the common interests of the group. The Council of Ministers meeting will be preceded by meetings between academics, business, and Senior Officials.

For more information on the 12th IOR-ARC meetings please visit

Economy of the Region

  • In 2011, the combined GDP of IORARC member countries increased to an estimated US$ 6.5 trillion from US$ 5.7 trillion in 2010. The combined GDP of IORARC countries is expected to cross US$ trillion by 2016.
  • During the period from 2001 to 2011, the total trades of the region more than tripled, from US$ 1.1 trillion in 2001 to US$ 3.5 trillion in 2010. Exports increased from US$ 564 billion in 2001 to US$ 1.8 trillion in 2010. The imports by the member countries have grown from US$ 507.6 in 2001 to US$ 1.7 trillion.
  • The share of IORARC region in global trade also increased from 8.6 % in 2001 to 11.6% in 2010.
  • India and IORARC Region: India’s total trade with the IORARC region has grown more than eight-fold from US$ 10 billion to US$ 156.3 billion during the period of 2001-2010. India’s exports to the region amounted to US $ 69 billion while imports amounted to US$ 87.3 billion in 2010. India contributed 15.6 % of total intra-regional trade in 2010.
Programmes held under India’s Chairmanship
  • Foreign Service Institute (FSI) of India successfully conducted 2nd Professional Course for Diplomats from IORARC countries in New Delhi in April 2012.
  • A trade facilitation and Custom Harmonisation programme was jointly conducted by the Indian custom authorities in Mumbai in May 2012.
  • National Institute of Oceanography , Goa conducted a workshop on costal zone management in Goa in September 2012.
  • Meeting of Heads of National Archival Documents was also held in New Delhi in September 2012.
  • A mobile Exhibition of Archival Documents was also held in New Delhi in September 2012.
  • India has given five additional scholarship for IORARC countries under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) during 2012-13



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