Representatives from 25 Indian Ocean nations discussed regional economic growth, cooperation and security at the Indian Ocean Conference in Bangladesh on Friday, as the Indo-Pacific grows in importance amid changes in the world order.
Government officials and experts discussed the Russia-Ukraine war prominently in several sessions, reflecting concerns about how countries in the region would align in the complex new order arising from the war.
“The Indian Ocean has re-emerged as an important area, not only for economic resources, but also because … it has gradually become a theater of geopolitics,” said Delwar Hossain, professor of international relations at the University of Dhaka. “So now we can see that the Indian Ocean littoral countries are facing a new context, especially when we look at Ukraine.”
INDIAN OCEAN COUNTRIES SEEKING TO MANAGE OCEAN TUNA, THE EUROPEAN UNION SEEMS TO OPPOSE
Countries in the region have had to deal with rising inflation and supply chain disruptions, as well as security alignment issues as a result of the war.
Bangladesh is hosting the two-day conference, organized by the India Foundation with the affiliation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of India. China is participating as an observer, while Myanmar has not been invited because of ongoing violence after its military seized power.
The Indian Ocean Conference began in 2016 and over the last six years has emerged as the main consultative forum for countries in the region on regional matters.
RESEARCHERS SAY LONG LOST CONTINENT UNDER INDIAN OCEAN ISLAND
The region includes 38 countries in the region, including 13 in Africa, 22 in Asia and one in Oceania that border the Indian Ocean, and two European countries that administer various dependencies or overseas territories in the region.
The vast Indian Ocean is vital to global trade and energy resources, but it also faces challenges such as piracy, terrorism and geopolitical tensions, organizers say.
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FOX NEWS APP
Veena Sikri, former ambassador of India to Bangladesh, said the region’s importance has grown in recent times as the countries around it have become increasingly interconnected.
She said the conference is crucial as China is at odds with rivals such as the United States, Japan and India in the Indo-Pacific region to establish supremacy and control sea lanes.
“Now, this time, the focus of this Indian Ocean conference is on the Indo-Pacific because that’s the trend of the future,” she said.