Trade & Investment Facilitation

IORA enhances economic co-operation and promotes foreign investment through a range of activities implemented in IORAs six Priority Areas and two Cross Cutting issues. The guiding principles for IORA Member States’ cooperation to facilitate trade and investment recognise the importance of the private sector, Blue Economy, global rules-based trading system and the empowerment of women in boosting growth, creating employment, and reducing poverty in the Indian Ocean region. 

The IORA Action Plan 2022-27 sets out the strategic goals of the Trade and Investment Priority Area.  This includes improving the production capacity, competitiveness, and value addition of products through inclusive public-private partnership that enhance intra-IORA flow of goods, services, investment to develop and grow the region’s economies sustainably. It also seeks to facilitate the movement of businesspersons and increase connectivity institutionally, physically, and through people-to-people linkages.  Additionally, it seeks to enhance ease of doing business rankings for IORA members to strengthen business facilitation.  It also seeks to strengthen regional cooperation for promotion of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs).



Working Group on Trade and Investment 

The Working Group on Trade and Investment (WGTI) develops and implements activities through its Work Plan in line with the strategic goals of the  Second IORA Action Plan . The WGTI Terms of Reference set out how the WGTI operates.  The WGTI Objectives and Focus Areas are outlined below. 


The objectives of the WGTI [AS1] are:

  1. To study and recommend measures to be endorsed by the Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) and Council of Ministers (COM) that address impediments to trade in goods, services, and investment. This promotes that IORA's trade and investment related objectives and enhances economic and technical cooperation amongst member states.
  2. To deepen engagement with the business community (including through closer collaboration with the Indian Ocean Rim Business Forum and business-to-government interactions). This fosters a collaborative environment where businesses can actively contribute to shaping the region's economic landscape.
  3. To implement the IORA Action Plan and WGTI Work Plan. These plans respectively provide a strategic and operational framework for IORA's trade and investment initiatives.
  4. To create a common platform for dialogue and exchange of information, including on opportunities, challenges, and best practices. This facilitates knowledge sharing and enables member states to learn from each other's experiences, leading to more informed decision-making and effective policy implementation.
  5. To encourage Member States and Dialogue Partners to offer training and capacity building programmes to meet the needs of and improve livelihoods in Member States. By enhancing policy makers skills and knowledge, IORA contributes to improved  economic growth across the region.
  6. To propose over the medium to long term an appropriate framework to unlock the trade and investment potential of IORA. This involves developing long-term strategies that address systemic challenges and pave the way for sustainable economic development throughout the Indian Ocean Rim.



The WGTI Terms of Reference include the following focus areas:




  1. Supporting the implementation of the World Trade Organisation Trade Facilitation Agreement: WGTI works to ensure that member states can maximise the benefits of this agreement, which aims to simplify and expedite trade procedures.
  2. Identifying and reducing non-tariff barriers: The group actively identifies and addresses non-tariff obstacles that hinder trade, such as technical regulations and bureaucratic procedures.
  3. Sharing knowledge and best practices: By fostering knowledge exchange among member states, WGTI enables them to learn from each other's experiences and implement effective strategies to improve their business environments.
  4. Promoting regional supply chains: WGTI encourages the development of integrated regional supply chains, which can enhance efficiency, competitiveness, and resilience within the Indian Ocean Rim.
  5. Facilitating government, business, and academic engagement: The group recognises the importance of multi-stakeholder collaboration and actively promotes dialogue and cooperation between governments, businesses, and academic institutions to drive economic development.



Leadership of the Trade and Investment Facilitation and the WGTI 



Strategic Discussions




  • Boosting Regional Prosperity: Experts discussed "Creating Economic Prosperity through resilient and predictable supply chains."
  • Reducing Digital Trade Barriers: Presentations focused on overcoming challenges in the digital trade landscape.



  • Addressing Non-Tariff Barriers, Challenges and Longterm Outlook
  • COVID-19-related challenges and opportunities for trade and investment in the Indian Ocean region.


IORA Climate Change Courses:

  • Two courses completed in 2023: "Grid Integration of Renewable Energy" and "Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation."
Latest news
The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, the Chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Business Forum, in ...
Past Events
Creation of an IORA Centre of Excellence for Dispute Resolution – February 2024
India – IORA Cruise Tourism Project – 2024
The adoption of an IORA MOU on Promoting Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), which are vital to boost economic growth and access to technology, markets and capital
The Experts’ Meeting on Trade and Investment Facilitation in the Indian Ocean Region held on 30-31 January 2020 in Mauritius. ...
The successful Modernising Trade in the Indian Ocean Rim conference, held on 17-18 June 2019 in Durban, South Africa. ...
IORA Business Conclave 2024
Register for the IORA Business Conclave, 28- 29 May 2024, in Sri Lanka. Business delegations from ...
Amanda Aspden