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    The Council of Ministers (COM) is IORA's peak decision-making body that brings together Foreign Ministers from Member States to discuss policy and agree on future strategic directions.

    Australia as Chair of the IORA from 2013-2015 hosted over 370 delegates at the 14th annual Council of Ministers Meeting (COMM) and related meetings held in Perth, 6-9 October 2014. 

    During the meetings, Ministers and senior officials discussed priority issues such as maritime safety and security, including cooperation on search and rescue, trade and investment facilitation, fisheries management, disaster risk management, academic, science and technology, and tourism and cultural exchanges. Progress in mainstreaming women's empowering women to participate in all aspects of the regional agenda was also discussed. Key outcomes are outlined in the  IORA 2014 communiqué.

    The official program was accompanied by a business stream, which brought together chambers of commerce and business representatives from around the region, a tangible example of the Australian Government's focus on economic diplomacy.

    A key outcome of the COMM was the release of an economic declaration as a statement of commitment to driving greater trade and investment in the Indian Ocean Rim. An Australian, $1 million economic diplomacy fund was also established to support economic diplomacy initiatives in the region.

    IORA Economic Declaration

    A number of members signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Search and Rescue Cooperation across the Indian Ocean, highlighting the collective desire to protect the safety and security of those who traverse the Indian Ocean.

    Foreign Minister Julie Bishop also announced a marine safety initiative to be funded through the Government Partnerships for Development (GPFD) Program. Led by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), $2.6 million will be provided over three years to strengthen the search and rescue capabilities in the Indian Ocean region working with Mauritius, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

    In addition to the Council of Ministers Meeting, a series of related meetings were held in Perth 6-8 October 2014. The Academic Group, Business Forum, Working Group on Trade and Investment (WGTI) - IORA's three working-level bodies - and the Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) met. The CSO considered proposals from these bodies and made recommendations to the COM for final approval on 9 October 2014.

    Australia will remain the IORA Chair until the 2015 Council of Ministers Meeting when Indonesia will assume the Chair. South Africa will also take over as IORA Vice-Chair. Further information and background on IORA can be found on the IORA secretariat website.


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