Indian Ocean Rim Academic Group (IOR-AG)

The Academic Group of the IOR-ARC is one element of the tripartite structure of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation, the other two elements being the Business Forum and the Working Group in Trade and Investment.

Basically the Academic Group was established as a ‘think tank’ and a research wing for the IOR-ARC. Over the past seven years, the Academic Group had met and discussed issues pertaining to economic cooperation mainly focusing on trade and investment issues and prepared project reports for approval by the Committee of Senior Officials and for consideration for implementation by the Council of Ministers.

The outcome of today’s meeting can be summarized as follows:

`95 A project on promoting Indian Ocean Rim tourism was handed over to the Business Forum for its consideration and integration with an ongoing tourism project of the Business Forum. The Academic Group believes that there is a lot to be gained by member countries by promoting tourism in the region.

`95 The Academic Group also decided to have an intense interaction with the Business Forum and the Working Group on Trade and Investment in order to avoid overlapping and duplication of activities and draw synergies among the three groups.

A meeting with the two other groups took place yesterday. This will be the first time that such an intensive interaction among the three groups would take place in order to bring more coherence to sectoral cooperation projects and trade and investment promotion measures in the Indian Ocean Rim.

`95 The Academic Group made a self-assessment of the past seven years and looked at future activities and its role. It made a critical assessment of where IOR-ARC has gone wrong.

Is the regional grouping too diverse and geographically scattered with different levels of development in member countries for any meaningful integration to take place? Do we really have an Indian Ocean identity that brings us closer together? Questions such as these need intense discussion. Thus the Academic Group suggested a seminar cum brainstorming session to precede the next IOR-ARC meeting in Teheran, Iran in 2005.

The Chairperson of the Academic Group Dr. Saman Kelegama concluded the session by saying, "we have a great opportunity to do something of lasting value to the region, and I am sure that the deliberations of today will contribute immensely to reinvigorating the IOR-ARC".