By Fakhri al-Arashi
Indian Foreign Minister for External Affairs Mr. Salman Khurshid has said that Yemen and India enjoy excellent bilateral relations. The Republic of India recently joined the Friends of Yemen as part of an effort to support the transitional process in Yemen. Mr. Khurshid said his government was very keen to help Yemen steer through a difficult transitional period.
“As a friend of Yemen, we have committed ourselves to providing assistance in any manner that is requested by the government,” said Khurshid. “We do not interfere, neither do we ask people which is the best way forward, because the people of Yemen understand what is the best way for them more than the friends do. We have a place in involvement as far as supporting the building of economic institutional and in enhancing business trade between the countries.
At the beginning of this month, the Ministry of External Affairs hosted the 12th meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation in Gurgaon, India. The meeting was concluded with a discussion of developing necessary steps for the IOR-ARC, through an inclusive approach and conformity with its charter, to strength the institution and enhances its capacity to achieve its largest objectives.
Dr. Abu Baker Al-Qirbi, Yemen’s Foreign Minister, said he looked forward to working with the IOR-ARC counterpart to promote bilateral relations between the two countries. The foreign minister said he appreciated support from the Indian government and for its $1 million contribution to the special fund. Furthermore, he said, “The constructive participation of the ‘dialogue partners’ in the meetings demonstrates the willingness of all our stakeholders to work together to achieve tangible results in the mission to improve the lives of ordinary people in the region.
“We are all encouraged by the progress made by the organization, although there is major work to be done to make it an active forum for greater economic and technical cooperation by governments and the private sector, as well as an exchange of experts – the more we focus on this and less on politics, the more likely we are to achieve our goal and create stronger links between our countries,” said Al-Qirbi.
In his speech Al- Qirbi said that thousands of fishermen in Yemen have lost their source of income because they abandoned their fishing boats for fear of being attacked by naval ships that suspect that they pirates. He said this has resulted in several fishermen losing their lives and the loss of over $200 million in revenue for Yemen.
“The Fisheries Support Unit, the Maritime Transport Council, the Regional Center for Science and the Transfer of Technology, the Preferential Trade Agreement, and our progress in initiating trade and investment opportunities, deserves the support of all member states,” said Al-Qirbi.
“Yemen is ready to do whatever it can to strengthen the association and improve the level of its cooperation with the IOR-ARC, and proposes the establishment of a traditional fishing resource unit in Yemen, to promote and enhance fishermen’s abilities,” concluded Al-Girbi.
India has been a major player on the regional and global market and has an eye on increasing the development of trade, investment volume, maritime security and fighting piracy with the IOR-ARC protocols agreement.
IOR-ARC came into being in the late 1990s and with six founding members – Australia, India, Mauritius, Oman, Singapore, and South Africa. The Regional Caucus primarily focuses on membership issues, to reinforce its strength in the Indian Ocean Rim region.
At one point in time, the number of group members rose to nineteen, with membership drawn from three continents.
Seychelles withdrew from the group, but rejoined during the last Bengaluru Summit in 2011. Until the group’s last meeting, there were nineteen countries in the group, with membership drawn from three continents. The members include Australia, Bangladesh, Iran, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, United Emirates, Yemen, and Seychelles.
The regional forum has conferred the status of ‘Dialogue Partner’ to six countries or organizations – China, Egypt, France, Japan, United Kingdom, and the Indian Ocean Tourism Organization, and the headquarters for the group is located in Port Louis, Mauritius. During this year’s conference meeting, the IOR-ARC added the Union of Comoros, making it the 20th member of the group, and decided also to admit the United States of American as the IOR-ARC’s sixth dialogue partner.
The IOR-ARC aims to create a platform for trade, socio-economic and cultural cooperation in the Indian Ocean Rim area. It is a heterogeneous Association, comprised of diverse cultural, linguistic, and religious groups in the Indian Ocean Littoral States.
The Indian Ocean is the world’s third-largest Ocean. It carries half of the world’s container ships, one-third of bulk cargo traffic, and two-thirds of the world’s oil shipments.
The ocean thus represents a lifeline for international trade and economy. The region is linked by trade routes and controls some of the world’s busiest sea lanes. The Indian Ocean Rim area holds between a quarter and a third of the world’s population (close to two billion people in total). The Indian Ocean Rim is rich in strategic and precious minerals, metals, and other natural resources, marine resources, and energy, all of which can be sourced from Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ), continental shelves, and the deep seabed. Therefore, there is a compelling argument in favor of an association centered on and around the Indian Ocean Rim. The association therefore brings together countries of the Indian Ocean littoral, even though they differ greatly in population, territorial extent or economic size. Some states are even naturally contiguous.
In the concluding session of the three-day meeting in Gurgaon, the IOR-ARC members were given a useful platform to exchange information on shipping, develop legal frameworks and share best practices in coastal security and the regulation of fishing activities on coastal waters.