The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) was launched in Mauritius on 6-7 March, 1997. The Indian Ocean Rim defines a distinctive area in international politics consisting of coastal states bordering the Indian Ocean. It is a region of a diverse mix in terms of culture, race, religion, economic development and strategic interests.
The IORA is an inter-governmental organisation aimed at strengthening regional cooperation and sustainable development within the region through its 23 Member States and 10 Dialogue Partners.
The Association comprises the following eighteen members:
The objectives of IORA are:
The trade and investment potential of the IORA region is huge. With a population of more than 2 billion people, the combined IORA Members States Gross Domestic Product amounts to around $9 trillion and IORA accounts for about 11% of world trade.
Six Priority and two Focus Areas were identified on to promote sustained growth and balanced development in the Indian Ocean Region. They are: Maritime Safety & Security, Trade & Investment Facilitation, Fisheries Management, Disaster Risk Management, Tourism & Cultural Exchanges, Academic, Science & Technology Cooperation, Blue Economy and Women's Economic Empowerment.
The focal point of for the IORA in Mauritius is the Regional Integration Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade. However, the International Trade Division of the Ministry focuses on the Trade and Investment Facilitation priority area. Discussions on this area are held at the level of the Working Group on Trade and Investment (WGTI).
Mauritius acted as Coordinator of the Trade and Investment Facilitation area in 2017-2021. In 2020, Mauritius hosted the Experts' Meeting on Trade and Investment Facilitation in the Indian Ocean Region to promote discussions on enhancing trade and investment in the region.
The WGTI has an established Work Plan consisting of initiatives agreed upon by Member States to facilitate Trade and Investment Facilitation in the Indian Ocean region. It includes, amongst others, activities to support the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, identify and reduce Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs), share lessons and knowledge on improving the business environment, promote regional supply chains and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The WGTI is currently chaired by Australia.
The International Trade Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade actively participates in the meetings of the WGTI which are held at regular intervals. The aim is to push for a framework on trade and investment for a more structured agenda on trade and investment within the IORA region.