The Indian Ocean Rim region has been linked by commerce for centuries, and is still at the centre of global trade and investment flows. Today half of the world’s container ships and two thirds of the world’s oil shipments pass through the Indian Ocean, including key transit points such as Bab el-Mandeb and the Straits of Hormuz and Malacca. Emerging economies such as India, Indonesia, Kenya and South Africa will ensure that the importance of the Indian Ocean Rim to the global trading environment will only increase in years to come.
Promoting trade and investment is at the heart of IORA. Increasing trade and investment is an essential way of promoting sustained growth and balanced development in IORA Member States, in line with the IORA Charter, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other global commitments. The IORA Charter commits Member States to pursue trade liberalisation and lower barriers to promote freer flows of goods, services, investment and technology.
IORA is a unique platform to facilitate increased trade and Investment. The Indian Ocean Rim Business Forum (IORBF), established in 1997, brings together peak private sector and industry groups from across the region to formulate policy and project recommendations to IORA governments. The IORA Working Group on Trade and Investment (WGTI) brings together government trade experts who work together to harmonise and simplify the ways of doing business in IORA Member States. The IORBF and WGTI provide recommendations to senior IORA officials and Ministers. In recent years key areas of focus under this priority area have included:
- Research on how trade and investment contribute to job creation, poverty alleviation and sustainable and balanced economic growth in the region;
- Promoting Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), which are vital to boost economic growth and access to technology, markets and capital;
- Measures to remove barriers that restrict trade and investment, such as customs and border procedures, that will enable goods, services and capital to flow freely between countries;
- Promoting regional value and supply chains, improving connectivity and intensifying investment in human capital;
- Harmonising efforts with related IORA priority areas and cross-cutting issues, particularly the Blue Economy and Women’s Economic Empowerment.
At the 17th IORA Council of Ministers meeting held in Durban in October 2017, Mauritius committed to spearhead the implementation of the Trade and Investment Facilitation priority area in the Action Plan as ‘Lead Coordinator’ and was joined by Iran and South Africa in July 2018.
New Delhi, Republic of India
Workshop to draft a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation in Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) sector between IORA Member States
New Delhi, Republic of India
First IORA Free Trade Zones Authorities Meeting