India for common maritime security regime in Indian Ocean region

Port Louis, July 4 (IANS) India Thursday called for a common maritime security enforcement regime and liberalisation of visa regimes to boost trade and investment in the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) countries.

"Despite the establishment of Working Group on Trade and Investment, not much progress has been made for achieving substantial outcomes based on the promise that this region holds out and the potential that has largely remained unharnessed," Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said, adding that India is considering visa on arrival for many countries, including Mauritius.

Speaking during a session on "Enhancing Trade and Investment in the IOR-ARC Region" during the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) Economic and Business Conference here, Sharma also said India was prepared to play an enhanced role on the high seas to boost trade without militarising the region.

"India can play a crucial role for enhanced regional trade through high seas which calls for concerted action on a common maritime enforcement regime that provides security and combats piracy without militarisation of the peaceful region."

Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam noted India's leadership at IOR-ARC. "We acknowledge the tremendous efforts that India has made in last two years and also the significant contribution made to the fight against piracy."

India and Mauritius are co-hosting the IOR-ARC Economic and Business Conference.

Sharma also called for diversifying the trade basket to value added products for achieving more balanced outcomes in both global and intra regional trade.

Many IOR countries are part of several sub-regional groupings like ASEAN, SAARC, COMESA, GCC, SACU. "This experience as part of the sub-groupings should be gainfully utilised for consolidating our partnerships in this expanding Rim Region Association," he said.

"It is opportune to institutionalise and consolidate our collective strengths to chart a new course in the global growth story and strengthen our prosperity as a region."

Sharma said the need for this Conference was to initiate the process of deliberations and gather suggestions of the business leaders for chartering the future roadmap of engagement. "It is important to take forward the momentum of our pan-Indian ocean regional cooperation to the next logical level by creating an institutionalised mechanism for an interaction of our businesses by defining areas of cooperation."

As the IOR region is home to world's richest agricultural resources and with many countries emerging as major exporters of processed food making agro-industry, Sharma said India welcomes equity and technology in the agro and food processing zones in India, especially in setting up cold storage and logistic supply chains under the liberalised foreign direct investment architecture in multi-brand retailing.

Sharma also sought the participation of businesses in the region in India's infrastructure development.

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