New Delhi: Batting yet again for the Indo-Pacific concept, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday said that “Indo-Pacific is actually a bread-and-butter expression” of “our political, economic, connectivity, travel, and societal interests”.

Speaking at a virtual event, EAM Jaishankar said, “Indo-Pacific is not tomorrow’s forecast but yesterday’s reality…This change actually reflects a regional manifestation of larger global trends.” His comments come, even as globally the concept is being adopted and welcomed.

While India, the US, Japan, and Australia have been the main supporter of it and in 2019, ASEAN came out with its outlook on it, many European countries like France, Germany, and The Netherlands have enunciated their official policies. Earlier this week, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab briefed India about London’s “Indo Pacific tilt”.

Defining the region encompassing the concept, he said it is a “maritime space that connects Africa, Asia, Eurasia’s Pacific Coast, Oceania, and the Pacific Coast of the Americas”. About 50 per cent of global trade traverses the region, is home to 64 per cent of the world population and 62 per cent of global GDP.

India has been increasing its engagement with countries in the region under initiatives such as Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative (IPOI).

The EAM said, “The IPOI is an inclusive and open initiative, seeking to better manage, conserve, sustain and secure the maritime domain. It does not envisage creating a new institutional framework and will rely on ASEAN-led EAS framework, though not necessarily limited to it.”

Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative (IPOI) has 7 pillars and was proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the East Asia Summit in November 2019. Under the initiative, India and Australia will together host a conference on combating Marine Pollution and Marine Plastic Debris which will bring together many countries of the region in 2021.

The EAM, interestingly raised the issue of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing saying, “IUU fishing in particular has emerged as an important issue and there is a need to address this through a regional framework of cooperation. India has undertaken to organize an EAS Conference in that regard.”

When it comes to IUU fishing, it is the Chinese vessels that have been indulging in such activity, draining oceanic regions near Latin America to North Korea out of resources.

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