Madam Chair, the Hon. Julie Bishop, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Australia
Secretary General, Amb. K.V Bhagirath,
Ministers, Ladies and gentlemen,
Between Bengaluru in 2011, through Gurgaon in 2012 and Perth in 2013, our organization has taken on a new momentum- and a new sense of purpose to go with its new name.
It is in that spirit that I warmly congratulate outgoing chair, India, on their leadership in creating this momentum, and the incoming chair, Australia on sustaining it.
I also have every confidence that our newly elected co-chair, Indonesia, will bring the same sense of dynamism to our organization.
A key part of this dynamism has been the strong engagement in strengthening the framework for trade in our region, and creating better connections for our private sectors. In July in Mauritius we were pleased to join the private sector from across our ocean in the first pan-Indian Ocean Economic and Business Forum.
Moving beyond the nexus of North-South trade is essential for us to achieve sustainable development. For a small island country like Seychelles- the realities of global trade mean that it can sometimes be more challenging to export or import to and from our closest neighbours in East Africa, than to Europe thousands of miles away. We are however encouraged by efforts being made within our region to better connect our economies through shipping and air links. We strongly support the IORA initiative to explore ways to improve our shipping links and make them more viable.
We also believe that strengthening our tourism partnerships will create further synergies that will amplify opportunities across our economic sectors. Seychelles is proud to welcome you all in June 2014 when we will host the IORA Tourism and Travel mart, where we hope to create an even stronger platform for these synergies.
Seychelles strongly supports the draft ‘Perth Oceans Declaration’ which is before us. The ‘Blue Economy’ is one of the biggest opportunities for our region- and our nations are determined to collectively create sustainable economic opportunities through long term investments in sustainable fisheries, responsible exploration of undersea resources and minerals, renewable and affordable energy from the sea and fair trade through reliable sea routes.
We see the IORA Fisheries support unit which we have endorsed and which aims to strengthen the sharing of information and expertise in our region as a concrete example of our shared desire to better connect our oceanic resources.
The ‘Blue Economy’ is our shared opportunity.
We thank the government of the UAE for agreeing to co-organise with Seychelles, a special Summit on the Blue Economy, to be held in Abu Dhabi on the 20th January 2014 as part of the annual Sustainability Week, and we look forward to welcoming you all on that occasion to further invigorate the debate on this subject which is a critical piece of the sustainable development jigsaw.
Madam Chair, I would also like to salute the determination of our nations to create a safe and secure maritime space for our shared development goals to be achieved. In 2009, Seychelles’ economy was under siege as piracy threatened to cut off all our trading arteries. Through concerted action, we have brought back a sense of security- but we cannot remain complacent. Seychelles has used its experiences to establish a coordination centre which has been actively involved in sharing intelligence with the region and beyond. And we are aiming to develop and strengthen law enforcement in our shared maritime spaces through a shared approach to maritime response- both strategically and operationally. We look forward to be able to establish partnerships with other centres in our region, with a view to further build capacity to fight all threats that affect our maritime corridors- from piracy to drugs trafficking, to illegal fishing and people trafficking.
Madam Chair, before concluding I would like to offer our best wishes and congratulations to the people and government of Madagascar on successfully organizing the first round of presidential elections last week-end, which marks a significant step in ending the political crisis there. We look forward to continued peaceful and credible proceedings in the second round.
In conclusion, please allow me to reiterate, Madam Chair, and colleague Ministers, of Seychelles’ strong commitment to the ideals of IORA, and our determination to strengthen these ideals through purposeful action.
I thank you.