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Trade & Investment Facilitation

Promoting trade and investment is at the heart of IORA. 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.

IORA Member States have committed to pursue trade liberalisation and lower barriers to promote freer flows of goods, services, investment and technology.  Trade and Investment Facilitation is one of IORA’s six priority areas.  The IORA Action Plan 2017-2021 sets seven ambitious targets for IORA, summarized as:

  • Short term: 

           Conduct capacity building on reducing barriers to trade; Cooperate to promote SMEs; 

           Establish an online IORA Trade Repository to assist businesses find trade  information; and

           Establish an Investment Guide to promote investment;


  • Medium Term:

          Revitalise IORA’s private sector arm, the Indian Ocean Rim Business Forum (IORBF); and

          Cooperate to promote financial services; 


  • Long Term:

          Make business travel easier


IORA’s past successes have included:

  • The successful Modernising Trade in the Indian Ocean Rim conference, held on 17-18 June in Durban, South Africa. Read the report here
  • The adoption of an IORA MOU on Promoting Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), which are vital to boost economic growth and access to technology, markets and capital;
  • Technical workshops and exchanges on regional trade and investment topics, such as the financial inclusion of women (more about IORA’s work on women’s economic empowerment here);
  • Trade Ministerial Meetings that highlight successes and emerging opportunities for the region, including through initiatives such as IORA Start-Up Sessions that have linked entrepreneurs and potential investors
  • A high-level B2B Business Summit in March 2017 in Jakarta, opened by President Joko Widodo, and accompanying Declaration
  • Progress in implementing an IORA online Trade Repository, to promote easy access to trade and investment information in the region (under construction)
  • Ongoing-Creation of an IORA Center of Excellence for Dispute Resolution in the IORA Region (under construction).


IORA’s Trade and Investment Facilitation work is led by a Working Group on Trade and Investment (WGTI) and the Indian Ocean Rim Business Forum (IORBF).


  • 10-14
    Feb 2020
    Training on International Arbitration for Legal Practitioners and Business Operators
    Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
  • 30-31
    Jan 2020
    IORA’s Experts’ Meeting to Enhance Intra-Regional Trade and Investment
  • 17-18
    Jun 2019
    Modernising Trade in the Indian Ocean Rim Conference
    Durban, South Africa
  • The Study on Bilateral and Regional Trade and Investment related Agreements and Dialogues between Members States
    14 Nov 2017
  • IORA Economic Declaration
    09 Oct 2014