The Second Ministerial Economic and Business Conference (EBC II), a flagship programme of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), will be held in Dubai from 11th-13th April 2016 in conjunction with the Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) 2016.
To be held under the theme of ‘SMEs and Innovation: Investing in a Sustainable Future’, EBC II will recognize the prospects of ICTs and innovation-led development planning as contextual drivers capable of fostering long-term growth for small and medium enterprises in the region and globally.
IORA, that has an objective to facilitate trade and investment, promote sustainable economic cooperation and capacity building for the development of the countries bordering the Indian Ocean, said that the UAE will become its chair by 2019.
IORA covers a region that incorporates 21 coastal states bordering the Indian Ocean and is home to about two billion people spanning three continents and boasting a regional GDP of over USD 9 trillion in 2015.
The decision to hold Economic and Business Conference II in Dubai was taken as a result of joint efforts by the Ministry of Economy and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in the UAE.
AIM, which is organised by the UAE Ministry of Economy, will be held under the patronage of Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, to mainly focus on foreign direct investments in emerging markets.
"The UAE’s overall economic vision stresses on the importance of creating viable success factors and drivers for small and micro-businesses. In the UAE, small businesses play a vital role in rooting the foundations of our economic prosperity. We are finalising a new set of policies aimed to encourage SMEs exponential growth. Along with a sustainable path for micro-enterprises, we are actively supporting entrepreneurship grounded in the highest standards of corporate performance and structured governance," Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy, said.
"The theme of the 2nd IORA Ministerial Economic and Business Conference resonates with the main scope and societal objective of our economic strategy. We hope that EBC-II will provide actionable methodologies and comprehensive tools to achieve IORA members their economic development objectives," Al Mansouri added.
As the apex regional organisation in the Indian Ocean, IORA has a significant role to play in supporting regional efforts to streamline the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) through the creation of business-friendly enabling environments with improved access to innovation, finance and markets.
"The Economic and Business Conference II will see participation from regions like Australasia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, West Asia and Eastern & Southern Africa, and it provides an opportunity to take stock of the progress that IORA has made since the meeting in Perth, and explore future directions and initiatives that are of interest to business leaders and decisions makers globally," said K V Bhagirath, Secretary General, Indian Ocean Rim Association.
"We are thrilled that such a globally renowned event as the Annual Investment Meeting in Dubai will coincide with our conference. This will give Conference participants a chance to visit and explore collaboration with AIM visitors and global decision-makers," added Bhagirath.
IORA is a dynamic organisation of 21 member states and 7 dialogue partners, with an ever-growing momentum for mutually beneficial regional co-operation. "Our Association Members will be definite visitors to AIM 2016, as we see it as an effective platform for Asian businessmen and professionals to network and exchange information related to business opportunities across Indian Ocean arena," noted Bhagirath.
As a premier three-day FDI-focused event, AIM will bring on the table investment opportunities, insights and case studies across various industry domains. It will also focus on the role of SMEs by all means of FDIs. The Organising Committee also revealed it will be arranging several investment activities.
This is a great opportunity for AIM 2016 to time itself with such a prestigious global event. The member countries of the IORA vary considerably in terms of their areas, populations and levels of economic development. We are anticipating significant presence as more investors and officials from vital investment markets will be present onsite to interact with the gathering. Moreover, the set of investment activities and topics on focus will enhance the cooperation among attendees," said Dawood Al Shezawi, CEO of AIM's Higher Organising Committee.
The first edition of the Economic and Business Conference, held in 2013, attracted around 370 delegates, including ministers, government officials, business persons and entrepreneurs from the IORA Member States and Dialogue Partner States. The Conference included Ministerial panel discussions and Business-to-Business (B2B) interactions between the business delegates and entrepreneurs on various sectors, including agriculture, energy, fisheries, infrastructure, marine resources and industries, shipping, telecommunications and information technology, tourism, SMEs and financial services among others.
"AIM 2016 will be a key event for investors who wish to expand their presence in the region. In addition to our collaboration with IORA, we are holding many discussions with leading Business Councils to take part in AIM," concluded Al Shezawi.
Since the First Economic and Business Conference, hosted by India and Mauritius is July 2013, IORA has increasingly sought to engage with the private sector based on the belief that SMEs are important contributors to employment and economic growth and drive innovation and competition in many economic sectors in the Indian Ocean region.