Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd leaves today to attend the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) Council of Ministers' meeting in Bengaluru, India.
“The Indian Ocean region is of vital strategic importance to Australia. The 18 member countries of the IOR-ARC are home to more than one third of the world's population, representing 10 per cent of global GDP and rising rapidly,” Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said.
“Australia is as much an Indian Ocean nation as we are a Pacific Ocean nation. Australia's trade in goods to IOR-ARC countries in 2010-2011 was over $80 billion, more than 17 per cent of our total exports.
“IOR-ARC, as the region's most representative group, has the potential to play an important role in addressing the increasing challenges facing the region. It is already active or expanding cooperation in areas such trade facilitation, disaster management, cooperation on climate change, sustainable fisheries management and maritime safety and security.”
At the Bengaluru meeting, Australia will assume the role of Vice Chair of IOC-ARC, working closely with India, as it assumes the role of Chair, for the next two years. Australia will then take over as Chair from 2013 to 2015.
IOR-ARC was founded in 1997 to promote cooperation in the region. It comprises 18 countries – Australia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
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