Forum for India–Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) is a multinational grouping developed in 2014 for cooperation between the Republic of India and 14 Pacific Islands nations which include Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
All heads of state or heads of government of the above countries met in Suva, Fiji in November 2014 for the first time where the annual summit was conceptualised.
Though these countries are relatively small in land area and distant from India, many have large exclusive economic zones (EEZs), and offer promising possibilities for fruitful cooperation.
India’s focus has largely been on the Indian Ocean where it has sought to play a major role and protect its strategic and commercial interests. The FIPIC initiative marks a serious effort to expand India’s engagement in the Pacific region.
To enhance India’s relations with the PICs in various fields such as trade, investment, tourism, education, health, agriculture, renewable energy, disaster management and climate change.
FIPIC also provides a platform for dialogue and consultation on regional and global issues of mutual interest.
At this moment, total annual trade of about $300 million between the Indian and Pacific Island countries, where as exports are around $200 million and imports are around $100 million.
India’s major assistance projects in the Pacific Island Countries:
In November 2014, when FIPC was launched, India had offered some major assistance projects. The projects offered include the setting up of a special USD one million fund for adapting to climate change and clean energy, establishing a trade office in India, Pan Pacific Islands e-network to improve digital connectivity, extending visa on arrival at Indian airports for all the 14 Pacific Island countries, cooperation in space technology applications for improving the quality of life of the islands, and training to diplomats from Pacific Island countries.
In addition, India has increased the annual “Grant-in-Aid” from USD 125,000 to 200,000 to each of the 14 Pacific Countries for community projects of their choice, and launched a new Visitors Programme for Pacific Island Countries.
During the second summit of FIPIC, Hon’ble Prime Minister has announced FIPIC Trade Office at Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) to promote Trade & Investment opportunities between India & Pacific Island Countries.
To further strengthen this initiative, FICCI is launching Business Accelerator for Forum for India – Pacific Islands cooperation (FIPIC) on 7th September 2015.
The main objectives of the business accelerator are:
Provide necessary information and facilitation to businessmen on both sides regarding prospects of Trade and Investment
Facilitate meetings between the concerned businessmen from both sides
Exchange of business delegations between India and Pacific Islands Countries (PICs)
Online & Offline Match Making Services
Organising Events/ Trade Fairs
Significance of Pacific Island Countries
Geopolitical Importance: The Pacific Island nations are strategically located in the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, which has drawn the attention of major powers like the US, Russia and China due to their potential for trade, military presence, and alliances.
Economic Potential: These nations possess valuable natural resources, including fisheries, minerals, timber, and tourism assets.
Additionally, their exclusive economic zones (EEZs) are rich in marine resources. They also serve as transit points for international trade, connecting various regions across the Pacific.
9 of the world’s 10 busiest seaports are in this region.
Cultural and Biological Diversity: The Pacific Island nations are home to diverse indigenous cultures, languages, and traditions, which are of immense value to humanity.
The preservation and promotion of their unique cultural heritage contribute to global diversity.
Potential Vote Bank: The 14 PICs, bound together by shared economic and security concerns, account for as many votes in the United Nations, and act as a potential vote bank for major powers to mobilise international opinion.
Oceania is a region made up of thousands of islands throughout the Central and South Pacific Ocean.
It includes Australia, the smallest continent in terms of total land area.
Oceania has traditionally been divided into four parts which are Australasia (Australia and New Zealand), Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.
The marine environment is an important and influential physical region in Australia and Oceania.
The Pacific Island Countries (PICs)
It consists of the 3 major groups of islands: Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia, and commonly refers to the 14 countries scattered in the South-West Pacific Ocean.
These are the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.