Recently, Indian PM landed in the capital city of Port Moresby for his first visit to the country, the first by any Indian prime minister, for the FIPIC Summit 2023 i.e. Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation summit.
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.
- India 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.
- Sea ambulances will be provided to all the 14 Pacific island countries.
- A Jaipur Foot Camp was conducted in Fiji where prosthetic limbs were provided free of cost to more than 600 people.
- Another similar camp will be set up in Papua New guinea this year and starting from 2024, two such camps will be organised every year in the Pacific island countries.
- The PM also pledged to provide desalination units for the people of every Pacific Island country.
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?
- 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.
- The references to “developments in the Indo-Pacific region” and a “vision for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific” are believed to be related to China’s increasing assertion in the region.
- Based on 2021-22 data, the total annual trade between India and Pacific Island countries is valued at $570 million, in commodities such as plastics, pharmaceuticals, sugar, mineral fuel and ores.
- Among them, Papua New Guinea is the biggest trade partner in terms of value.
About FIPIC summit?
- This was the third FIPIC summit to be held.
- FIPIC-I, in 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 teleeducation, 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”.
- 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 September 24, 2019 in New York on the sidelines of the 74th UN General Assembly.
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