Member's Area
Indian Ocean Rim Association
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Formation

On 29-31 March 1995, the Mauritius Government convened a meeting to discuss the enhancement of economic co-operation among the countries of the Indian Ocean Rim. Representatives of governments, academia and businesses from Australia, India, Kenya, Mauritius, Oman, Singapore and South Africa - known as the "Core Group States" or the M-7 - attended the meeting. In a joint statement, the participants declared that they had agreed on "principles of open regionalism and inclusivity of membership, with the objectives of trade liberalization and promoting trade co-operation. Activities would focus on trade facilitation, investment promotion and economic co-operation." 

A tripartite Working Group (Government, Academic and Private Sectors) met in Mauritius on 15-17 August 1995. The Working Group decided to create a "Second Track" process, complementary to an Inter-Governmental Movement. A later meeting in September 1996 in Mauritius finalised a Charter for the creation of IORA, and expanded the membership to include Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Yemen, Tanzania, Madagascar and Mozambique. 

IORA was formally launched at the first Ministerial Meeting in Mauritius on 6-7 March 1997. This meeting adopted the IORA Charter, and determined the administrative and procedural framework within which the organisation would develop.

The Second Biennial Council of Ministers Meeting was held in Maputo, Mozambique in March 1999. This meeting was critical for the future of IORA as Ministers agreed to a realistic, outcome-focused Trade and Investment Agenda, based on Trade Facilitation, Trade Liberalisation, and Economic and Technical Co-operation. It was agreed to establish a Working Group on Trade and Investment (WGTI). The Ministers also decided to invite Bangladesh, Iran, Seychelles, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates to join the Association, and to invite Egypt and Japan to participate as Dialogue Partners. 

An extraordinary meeting of the IORA Ministerial Council took place in Muscat, Oman, in January 2000, designed to formally welcome the new members and Dialogue Partners into IORA. This was also the first time that the WGTI met. At this meeting, the Ministers adopted a Trade and Investment Plan of Action, which included an agreement to compile a Compendium on Customs Regimes, Quarantine and Food Inspection and Investment Regimes. Another outcome of this meeting was that China and the United Kingdom formally acquired Dialogue Partner status. 

The Third Ministerial Meeting of the IORA was held in Muscat, Oman, on 7 and 8 April 2001. This Council of Ministers (COM) meeting was immediately preceded by meetings of the Committee of Senior Officials (CSO), the Indian Ocean Rim Academic Group (IORAG), the Indian Ocean Rim Business Forum (IORBF) and the Working Group on Trade and Investment (WGTI). At this meeting France was admitted as a Dialogue Partner. 

In recent years, IORA has gained tremendous momentum. The breadth and depth of regional co-operation has been continually expanded. The Association also continues to grow in terms of membership. In November 2012, Comoros became the 20th IORA Member State, and the United States of America became the organisation's sixth Dialogue Partner.