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Dr. Ganeshan Wignaraja, Chair of the Global Economy Programme at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKI) participated in a two-day conference and workshop, on Maritime Order in the Indian Ocean, from 30 April-1 May 2018, hosted by Deakin University Law School’s Center on the Legal Profession in Melbourne. He delivered a presentation and chaired a session on Economics.
Dr. Wignaraja’s presentation was on ‘The Indian Ocean Economy: Outlook and Challenges.’ In his presentation, Dr. Wignaraja explored the region’s economic outlook by considering initial conditions, recent economic and trade growth (including container traffic flows and trading partners) and emerging risks. He also discussed projections of key economic aggregates to 2025 and policy challenges like development gaps, policy barriers, and nascent regional institutions. He noted that the Indian Ocean region would be likely to benefit from the ‘Asian Century,’ yet warned that complacency would be a mistake as the region’s success is not yet preordained.
Dr. Wignaraja’s presentation also explored the policy implications for a peaceful and prosperous Indian Ocean economy and maritime order. This included a reduction of trade and regulatory barriers, and development gaps. He also highlighted the need to strengthen nascent regional institutions and mitigate non-traditional security threats. The presentation is an extension of a forthcoming LKI Policy Brief co-authored by Dr. Wignaraja and LKI researchers, Adam Collins and Pabasara Kannangara.
The event aimed to examine the nature of the maritime order of the Indian Ocean and its role among some of the fastest-growing economies in the region. The conference addressed key themes including the outlook and potential benefits from economic cooperation; ocean governance based on international law; security issues; and sustainable utilisation and exploitation of ocean resources.
The event was inspired by the 2017 Deakin Law Oration delivered by Sri Lankan Prime Minister, Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe, who used the opportunity to call for renewed regional attention to ensure free and safe navigation on the Indian Ocean.
The Sri Lankan delegation headed by former Navy Commander, Admiral Travis Sinniah, Consultant (Indian Ocean Affairs), Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs. It also comprised leading experts including Rear Admiral Neil Rosayro, Chief of Staff, Sri Lanka Navy; Ms. Sashikala Premawardhane, Acting Director General, Ocean Affairs, Strategic Security, Climate Change and Policy Planning, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Professor Nayani Melegoda, Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Colombo; Consul General Hon. W G S Prasanna, Consulate General of Sri Lanka, Melbourne; and Dr Ganeshan Wignaraja, Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies.
Senior Professor Nayani Melegoda, who is also a LKI Board Member, chaired a session on International Law and Security. Dr. David Brewster, Senior Research Fellow at the Australian National University; and Professor Natalie Klein, University of New South Wales from the Macquarie University, both of whom spoke at the Sri Lanka Foreign Policy conference organised by the LKI last year, also spoke at the conference.
The event drew a diverse group of participants, including academics, government officials, industry representatives, maritime international and resource law scholars, regional stakeholders, and foreign dignitaries. For more information, visit https://blogs.deakin.edu.au/maritime-order-conference/.