Australia right to look to the Indian Ocean, as well as Asia-Pacific, to secure our future

Australia’s largest and most representative business voice, The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry welcomes and supports the Australian Governments’ focus on the Indian Ocean Rim as a major component of the Indo-Pacific engagement strategy as expressed by Minister Payne in her current visit to India and presentation to the Raisina Dialogue.

“The region goes well beyond India alone. Spanning Australia, SE Asia, India, the Middle East and East Africa, the Indian Ocean Rim is home to over 3 billion people seeking improved opportunities and quality of life,” Australian Chamber CEO, James Pearson, said.

“It features major global shipping transport lanes, most of the world’s extractable energy resources, five G20 nations and a host of some of the world’s fastest growing economies.

“This is a huge market opportunity for Australian producers of food and fibre, natural resources in energy and metals, education and other service providers from finance to health and the built environment.

“The region will also increasingly be the source of tourists as people’s wealth grows.

“We particularly welcome increased funding for regional infrastructure investment, and diplomatic efforts through the Quad and other regional initiatives, which deserve continuing bipartisan political support.

“We have seen how Australia and other countries in the Asia Pacific region have benefitted from strong institutional frameworks and regional inter-governmental approaches such as APEC and ASEAN. It’s time to reinforce and resource similar frameworks to underpin peace, security and improved trade and investment regimes amongst our trade, investment and security partners on the shores of the Indian Ocean.

“The Australian Chamber has worked closely with Government to strengthen our involvement in the Indian Ocean Rim Association and we have encouraged the elevation of this group to the status of a leaders meeting status, with a work plan that augments our efforts in APEC and other similar fora.

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“However, other nations are aware of the opportunities and so we cannot delay our engagement any longer.

“Major powers are active in the region. For example, there are already several Chinese Belt and Road projects underway in both Asia and Africa.

“Minister Payne is right to demonstrate that Australian interests are not only economic but also have national and regional security implications.

“Australia should foster strong ties with our neighbours in the Indian Ocean Rim region to ensure the peace and security that will facilitate trade and investment, economic growth and better understanding.

“Australia needs to position itself as a partner of choice in this region. It is in our national economic and security interests to do so” Mr Pearson concluded.

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