Today's Editorial

Today's Editorial - 06 June 2023

The FIPIC summit

Source: By The Indian Express

Small Island nations of the Pacific Oceans are in fact “large ocean states”, said the Prime Minister, highlighting the importance of the 14 members of the Forum for India Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC). Addressing the opening session of the FIPIC-3 summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, PM spoke in favour of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. This visit was the first by any Indian prime minister, for the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) summit, 2023.

What is FIPIC?

The Forum for India–Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) was launched during PM Modi’s visit to Fiji in November 2014.

FIPIC includes 14 island countries – Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu – that are located in the Pacific Ocean, to the northeast of Australia.

What was the idea behind FIPIC?

According to the grouping’s website, despite their relatively small size and considerable distance from India, many of these islands have large exclusive economic zones (EEZs). EEZs is the distance up to which a coastal nation has jurisdiction over the ocean, including both living and non-living resources. It generally goes to 200 nautical miles or 230 miles (around 370 km) beyond a nation’s territorial sea.

India’s larger focus is on the Indian Ocean where it has sought to play a major role and protect its strategic and commercial interests. The FIPIC initiative then marks a serious effort to expand India’s engagement in the Pacific region as well.

Based on 2021-22 data, the total annual trade between India and Pacific Island countries is valued at $570 million, in commodities such as plasticspharmaceuticalssugarmineral fuel and ores. Among them, Papua New Guinea is the biggest trade partner in terms of value.

What is the FIPIC summit?

This was the third FIPIC summit to be held.

FIPIC-Iin 2014, took place at Suva, Fiji’s capital city. India announced various development assistance initiatives and other cooperation projects in areas of climate change, trade, economy, telemedicine and tele education, IT, grants for community development projects, etc.

At FIPIC-II in 2015 in Jaipur, India again announced similar initiatives. India also approached the event from a large diplomatic perspective, calling for a “dedicated seat for Small Island Developing States in an expanded and reformed UN Security Council in both categories”.

“Our challenges are similar. Climate change is an existential threat to the Pacific Islands. We both seek a concrete and effective outcome on climate change at the Conference of Parties-21 in Paris later this year,” the Prime Minister also said at the summit.

In 2019, the India-Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) Leaders’ Meeting (comprising delegations of 12 out of the 14 Pacific Islands countries) was held on 24 September 2019 in New York on the sidelines of the 74th UN General Assembly.

The Indian government then announced an allocation of $12 million grant ($1 million to each PSIDS) towards implementation of high-impact developmental projects in the area of their choice. In addition, a concessional Line of Credit of $150 million, which can be availed by the PSIDS for undertaking solarrenewable energy and climate related projects based on each country’s requirement, was announced.

What happened at the FIPIC summit 2023?

The third FIPIC summit was to be held in early 2020 but was postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. During his concluding remarks, the prime minister announced initiatives such as:

*Establishment of a super-specialty cardiology hospital in Fiji. “The Indian government will bear the full cost of this mega greenfield project”, the PM said.

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