Jakarta. Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi met with her counterparts from the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, the Comoros, Kenya, Mauritius and Myanmar to discuss strengthening maritime and trade relations in the region during the meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association Council of Ministers in Jakarta on Monday (06/03).
Indonesia and Kenya, the country's sixth-largest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa, plan to devise new ways of promoting mutual trade in strategic industries, according to a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Kenya also plans to establish an embassy in Jakarta in the coming months to replace its current honorary consulate in the capital.
Total trade between the two countries amounted to $210 million last year.
IORA comprises 21 coastal states bordering on the Indian Ocean and its provides an annual forum to discuss bilateral relations between member states, with a special focus on maritime relations.
During her meeting with Mauritian Foreign Minister Seetanah Lutchmeenaraidoo, Retno invited the country to strengthen cooperation in combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
Indonesia has seen an increase in recent years in trade and foreign direct investments from the Comoros and Mauritius. In 2016, trade between Indonesia and the Comoros increased 20 percent, whereas total investments from Mauritius increased twelvefold.
Retno discussed further opportunities during the meeting to strengthen member states' partnerships in maritime industries.
Future of IORA
Retno also encouraged United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Maitha Salam Al Shamsi to increase his government's role in IORA, citing vast potential for mutually beneficial trade and security relations between the Gulf nation and member states.
The United Arab Emirates will chair IORA in 2018, after Indonesia hands its chairmanship to South Africa in 2017.
The two countries also discussed increasing investment by the United Arab Emirates in Indonesia as the Southeast Asian nation looks to diversify its energy sector.
IORA is expected to produce four documents at the Leaders' Summit on Tuesday, which will outline future programs aimed at creating a peaceful, stable and prosperous Indian Ocean region. This year commemorates the association's 20th anniversary.
At least 16 presidents, vice presidents and prime ministers will attend the IORA Leaders' Summit on Tuesday.
The association's member states include South Africa, Australia, Bangladesh, the Comoros, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Seychelles, Singapore, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand and Yemen.
The Indian Ocean Tourism Organization and the Indian Ocean Research Group, two monitoring organizations, are also participating in the summit.