Maritime cooperation in the Indian Ocean has become increasingly important in the current geopolitical landscape and cooperation among the countries in the region is crucial to ensure security, stability, and economic prosperity for all, panelists said in a dialogue held in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
The Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS) is conducting the trilateral dialogue with the Sri Lankan think-tank ‘Factum’ and ‘Baani Centre,’ a Maldives-based think tank.
It will be a standing trilateral forum on maritime issues. The first round of dialogue was held on April 30 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
The panel on maritime cooperation was chaired by Pamela Jayasekera Deen (Amb), Director General, Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institute.
The panelists of the dialogue were – Major General (Retd) ANM Muniruzzaman, President of BIPSS; Rear Admiral Y. N. Jayarathna (Retd), and Thoriq Hamid, Chairperson of the Baani Centre.
Indian Ocean region (IOR) comprises more than 30 littoral nations, such as India, Australia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Indonesia and three major strategic choke points and it has become a major geopolitical and economic “hotspot”.
Muniruzzaman focused on the strategic importance of the Indian Ocean in his remarks at the panel.
He mentioned that over 80% of the global oil trade passes through the IOR. “Hence, these sea lines’ safety is very crucial for the strength of the world political economy.”
Forecasts suggest that the Indian Ocean economy will likely account for around a fifth of global GDP by 2025, and its GDP per capita is expected to almost double, he said.
“The Indian Ocean is rich in natural resources, including oil and gas reserves, minerals, and fish stocks. An estimated 40% of the world’s offshore oil production and 25% of global natural gas reserves are in the region,” Muniruzzaman said.
The panelists concluded that maritime cooperation in the Indian Ocean has become increasingly im-portant in the current geopolitical landscape.
As the world’s third-largest ocean and an important trade route, the Indian Ocean is crucial for economic and strategic interests.
The remarks from the panelists were followed by an interactive session and a declaration of the outcomes of the dialogue.
The dialogue concluded with the signing of a Trilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) among the partner think tanks.
The Indian Ocean is a vital maritime trade route that connects Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, BIPSS said in a media release.
The region has played a crucial role in shaping the history and economy of the world. Due to its location and abundant natural resources, the Indian Ocean has been the focus of international attention.
It is important to explore the significance of the Indian Ocean in more detail and that is why BIPSS took the initiative to hold track-2 dialogues with two other littoral states of the Indian Ocean, Maldives and Sri Lanka, on maritime cooperation in the Indian Ocean, BIPSS said.
The Indian Ocean is also of strategic importance for global security. The region has been prone to pira-cy, terrorism, and other security threats, including the presence of non-state actors and insurgent groups.
Many countries in the region have invested heavily in naval capabilities to protect their interests and maintain stability, according to BIPSS.
The Indian Ocean is an important arena for great power competition, with countries such as China, In-dia, the United States, and Japan vying for influence and access to strategic resources, it said.