Swaraj talks about economic importance of Indian Ocean in Vietnam
Emphasizing the economic importance of the Indian Ocean, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has said with the eastward shift of the global economy, the Indian Ocean is at the center of the emerging "Age of Asia" and those who live in this region bear the primary responsibility for its peace and stability.
She was addressing the 3rd Indian Ocean Conference in Hanoi, Vietnam yesterday.
Indian Ocean is host to world's busiest waterways: Swaraj
"The Indian Ocean is host to the world's busiest waterways and three-quarters of that traffic are headed for destinations beyond our region," Swaraj said.
"As an important trade and energy waterway, carrying half the world's container shipment, one-third of its bulk cargo traffic and two-thirds of oil shipments, the Indian Ocean clearly assumes importance well beyond its immediate shores and its littorals," she said.
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40% of world's offshore petroleum is produced in Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean, which borders Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia, is home to major sea-lanes and choke points that are crucial to global trade.
Nearly 40% of the world's offshore petroleum is produced in the Indian Ocean, which also has rich mineral deposits and fisheries.
Swaraj said "the bounty" of the Indian Ocean cannot be tapped without ensuring maritime peace and stability.
Swaraj talks about importance of maritime security
"Economic prosperity and maritime security go hand-in-hand. Security is an all-encompassing concept and includes traditional, non-traditional and newly emerging threats like maritime terrorism, smuggling, transnational crimes, drug-trafficking, illegal immigration, unregulated fishing, piracy, unregulated private maritime security companies, and proliferation of sensitive items," Swaraj said.
ASEAN, IORA are important instruments to maintain peace: Swaraj
Swaraj said India sees Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as central to the regional maritime architecture.
Swaraj said India considers the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) as an important instrument for achieving peace and security in the region.
The focus of the IORA on maritime safety and security promotes a shared understanding of maritime issues, and helps develop cooperative mechanisms, she said.
India shares common vision for Indo-Pacific: Swaraj
Emphasizing that India shares a common vision for the Indo-Pacific, Swaraj said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in 2015, put forward the concept of SAGAR, proposing a holistic vision for India's engagement with this region.
She also said India's Act East Policy is at the heart of the country's eastward orientation and ties with a broader approach to the Indo-Pacific.
Swaraj's statements come amid China's OBOR initiative
Swaraj's comments assume significance in the wake of China increasing its footprints in the Indian Ocean, which figures prominently in Chinese President Xi Jinping's ambitious 'One Belt, One Road' initiative to build a new Silk Route.
India is opposed to the 'One Belt, One Road' initiative as it includes the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which transverses through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Swaraj to visit Cambodia next
Sushma Swaraj is in Vietnam on the first leg of her four-day two-nation tour, which aims at deepening India's strategic cooperation with Vietnam and Cambodia, the key countries in the ASEAN region.