'Indian Ocean cooperation is important for India and Mozambique'
Geographically positioned as a key African ally as India seeks to become a net security provider in the Indian Ocean region, cooperation between Mozambique and India is crucial for both the countries, says Mozambican Minister of Mineral Resources Esperanca Bias.
"Indian Ocean cooperation is important for both our countries, as well as for other countries too," Bias told IANS in an interview here.
"I know that you have a lot of expertise on that (maritime security) and we want to take advantage of it", Bias added.
Maritime cooperation between Mozambique, on the southeast African coast, and India is more than a decade old since the latter sent a naval ship to Mozambique to provide security for the 2003 African Union summit in the capital Maputo. This was followed by the dispatch of two Indian patrol boats for assisting in security during an international conference, leading to the signing of the 2006 MoU by which the Indian Navy engages in regular patrolling off the Mozambique coast.
Mozambique is also part of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) that includes naval representatives from the littoral states and the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC).
"We are taking advantage of India's expertise because we are neighbours, separated by the Indian Ocean. We have many Indian companies working in Mozambique," the Mozambican minister said.
The Indian Ocean region is home to more than a quarter of the world's population and its waterways carry half of the world's cargo ships and two-thirds of the world's oil shipments.
India is the 8th largest foreign investor in Mozambique, with the investment flow roughly estimated to be around USD 600 million. Bilateral trade crossed the one billion US dollars mark in 2012-13 and was worth USD 1.28 billion during the fiscal year.
(Biswajit Choudhury can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 24-01-2014)