28 February 1997



I will be attending a meeting of Indian Ocean Rim Foreign Ministers in Mauritius on 5 - 7 March 1997 to take part in the launch of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC). The launch will follow a Senior Officials' Meeting in Mauritius on 3-4 March.

Australia is pleased to have been a part of the Indian Ocean Rim Initiative since its inception and to be a founding member of the IOR-ARC.

Rapid progress has been made to establish the Association since the first meeting of Indian Ocean Rim countries was convened by Mauritius in January 1995 and this progress reflects the strong aspirations for regional economic cooperation of participating countries.

Australia's commitment to this new regional organisation reflects the Government's strong commitment to regional engagement generally.

The Indian Ocean region is diverse and includes countries of increasing importance to Australia such as India, South Africa, the dynamic South East Asian economies and significant markets in the Middle East.

The other founding members of the Association are India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, Oman, Yemen, Kenya, Tanzania, Mauritius, Mozambique and Madagascar.

The IOR-ARC's goals are regional development, economic and trade cooperation, liberalisation of the flow of goods, services and investment, technology and trade in general, cooperation in developing human resources and, when appropriate, joint pursuit of regional strategies in international fore.

The IOR-ARC will be an outward looking forum for economic dialogue and cooperation, in some respects like APEC, and all founding members of the Association have agreed that the Association will not be a preferential trade bloc. No formal treaty will be required for its establishment.

Academic and business groups will operate in conjunction with the governmental consultations. In addition to Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and WA State

Government officers, the Minister's delegation to Mauritius will include representatives from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Indian Ocean Centre (Curtin University). These organisations have played an important role in negotiations leading up to the establishment of the IOR-ARC and in Indian Ocean cooperation more generally.



For further information:

Ministerial - Peter Collins on 06 277 7500 and

DFAT - Tony Melville/Kirk Coningham 06 261 1555