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Sri Lanka Welcomes Initiatives Taken to Promote Trade and Investment in IOR-ARC
[30 June, 2009]

Sri Lanka welcomed the initiatives taken to promote trade and investment among member states within the framework of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) during its Council of Ministers’ Meeting in Sana’a, Yemen on Thursday 25 June. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Hussain Bhaila who led the Sri Lanka delegation to the Conference urged that IOR-ARC ‘may proceed on the basis that a Preferential Trade Arrangement is an instrument to foster and enhance the promotion of trade flows in the region by removing impediments’. He however cautioned that ‘mutually beneficial trade’ must be promoted, taking into account ‘the economic asymmetries among member states’.

The Deputy Minister, in this context, welcomed the deliberations of the PTA Sub-Committee under the IOR Working Group on Trade and Investment, in mapping the work envisaged with regard to the implementation of a Preferential Trade Agreement for IOR-ARC member states. He also welcomed the initiatives taken by IOR-ARC to promote investment, including the work done towards the implementation of an Agreement on the Promotion and Protection of Investment in the region. He commended the moves underway to share information among member states on trade, finance, investment regimes, intellectual property, procurement procedures, customs regulations and quarantine requirements to reach harmonisation of standards, as ‘welcome first steps in intra-regional trade facilitation’.

Deputy Foreign Minister Bhaila reiterated Sri Lanka ’s deep commitment towards the principles espoused by IOR-ARC, having actively contributed to the Organisation in various capacities over the years. He reiterated the sentiments echoed by member countries of the need to ‘collectively map a strategy that can unlock the tremendous potential of IOR-ARC’ by the institutional strengthening of the Organisation.

Sri Lanka welcomed, among other initiatives, the setting up of the Centre for Science and Technology Transfer in Iran to facilitate the transfer and development of technology among member states’; the further development of the IORNET website to encourage private sector interaction; and the agreement reached in principle to combat maritime piracy in the region. It also commended initiatives by member countries to cooperate on areas of common interest binding the Indian Ocean Rim countries such as disaster management and information sharing, shipping, coastal infrastructure development and tourism.

The Deputy Foreign Minister thanked the Yemeni Foreign Minister and Chair of IOR-ARC Dr. Abubaker Al-Qirbi, as well as member states for the unqualified support and condolences extended to the Sri Lanka delegation on the sudden passing away of M.A.M. Marleen, Sri Lanka ’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia , under tragic circumstances in Sana’a. Ambassador Marleen was to lead the Sri Lanka delegation at the Senior Officials’ Meeting.

The Council of Ministers Meeting was preceded by the three Working Group Meetings of the IOR Academic Forum, Business Forum and Trade and Investment, as well as the Senior Officials’ Meeting held from 20 to 24 June in Sana’a. Senior officials of the Foreign Ministry and the Department of Commerce were associated with the Meetings. IOR-ARC is a grouping of Indian Ocean Rim countries launched in 1997 to promote economic cooperation. It has a membership of 18 countries including Sri Lanka.