India has recently attended the UK led Partners in the Blue Pacific (PBP) meet as Observer. The joint statement was issued which aims to support the Pacific region.
What is Partners in the Blue Pacific (PBP) initiative?
- The PBP is a five-nation “informal mechanism” to support Pacific islands and to boost diplomatic, economic ties in the region. The five nations include the US, UK, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
- Announced in June 2022, it speaks of enhancing “prosperity, resilience, and security” in the Pacific through closer cooperation.
- It simply means that through the PBP, these counties — together and individually — will direct more resources here to counter China’s aggressive outreach.
- The initiative members have also declared that they will “elevate Pacific regionalism”, and forge stronger ties with the Pacific Islands Forum.
- In a joint statement released to announce the initiative, the five member nations said that the forum remains open to cooperating with additional partners, adding that “at every stage, we will be led and guided by the Pacific Islands. We will seek Pacific guidance on the PBP’s selection of its lines of effort and its flagship projects”.
- The areas where PBP aims to enhance cooperation include “climate crisis, connectivity and transportation, maritime security and protection, health, prosperity, and education”.
What is ‘Pacific Islands Forum’?
- The Pacific Islands Forum is the region’s premier political and economic policy organisation.
- Founded in 1971, it comprises 18 members: Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
India’s relations with the Pacific Island Countries –
- India’s interaction with the PICs is largely driven by the presence of sizeable Indian Diaspora in the region.
- Nearly 40% of Fiji’s population is of Indian origin and about 3000 Indians live in Papua New Guinea at present.
- In terms of institutional engagements, India participates in the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) as one of the key dialogue partners of the Forum.
- The most important development in facilitating India’s interaction with the PICs in recent years has been the formation of an action-oriented Forum for India and Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC). FIPIC, a multinational grouping, was launched in 2014.