Adopting the ‘Bengaluru Communiqué’ at the 11th meeting of its Council of Ministers (COM) here on Tuesday, the group said it identified sectors of common and contemporary interest.
Expressing concern at the growing level of piracy, off the Horn of Africa, the IOR-ARC said it fully supported the efforts of the United Nations (UN).
“We committed ourselves to co-operate fully by sharing information and technical assistance to combat piracy,” the Communiqué reads. The group has encouraged member-countries to actively take part in international conferences, regional symposia, and workshops on piracy.
Minister for External Affairs S M Krishna, who briefed reporters after the meeting, said the group discussed ways and means to consolidate co-operation in such areas as maritime security, combating piracy, natural disaster management, education, fisheries and marine resources management, trade and investment promotion, capacity building and tourism.
To combat illegal fishing and damaging of fishing techniques, the group said its Fisheries Support Unit set up under the aegis of the Sultanate of Oman could function as a nodal institution to address the members’ interests and requirements.
Trade among the IOR-ARC countries amounts to 24 per cent of the global trade. The group has urged its members to reach out to the business and commercial enterprise in the region. The group also discussed the possibility of initiating a comprehensive study on the feasibility of preferential trading arrangements for the region including in a variable geometry.
Meteorology and the study of monsoons, marine biology, and management of coastal zones, energy efficiency and renewal energy technologies, capacity-building in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), analytical studies on investment promotion, etc, will be some of the areas relevant to the member-nations.
Besides, the group will pay attention to cross-fertilisation of ideas between the academic and business fora and the working group on trade and investment. “We are convinced that educational mobility and academic exchanges have the potential to contribute to in this respect,” the Communiqué said.
The group also stressed the importance of exploiting the enormous interesting possibilities in intra-regional tourism. It has suggested to the member countries to target the said sector for growth.
The body looked forward to the second phase of Tourism Feasibility Study being undertaken by the Sultanate of Oman.
Developing people-to-people contacts and cultural exchanges, and making full use of capacity-building programming will be high on the members’ agenda.