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The term Indo-Pacific has featured in academic writings, media discussions and policy debates since 2007, and has gained currency over the years following its inclusion in official speeches, policy documents and joint statements of leaders and governments.
Notwithstanding the on-going academic and policy debates on its geographical, political, strategic and security connotations, the term has been widely accepted into the academic and policy discussions.
The Indo-Pacific strategic system broadly spans from the eastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean to Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean and become a centre of intense power contestation between the United States pivot including Japan, India and Australia (slowing giving shape to the idea of a quad), and China. In addition, other regional states inter alia, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea have a stake in regional stability for their economic growth and prosperity.
The region hosts several important regional associations and arrangements: Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), East Asia Summit (EAS) and Indian-Ocean Rim Association (IORA).
These arrangements are instrumental in facilitating periodic meetings, summits and dialogues to discuss a wide range of issues including, regional business and maritime trade, natural disasters, territorial conflicts, piracy, hydrocarbon explorations, fishing, marine research and other transnational threats.
India and the western economies are highly dependent on the maritime trade and energy supplies that flow through the Indo-Pacific, via Malacca Straits, and any regional military flare-up could prove cataclysmic to their economic interests.
The Indo-Pacific remains a key component of India’s Act East Policy which dovetails nicely into Australia’s strategic interests in upholding a rule-based order. Also, their interests converge in the Pacific Island region where India has stepped its presence since 2014 under Prime Minister Modi.
The Indo-Pacific initiative seeks to facilitate not only policy discussions, publications, research collaborations and institutional interactions between Australia, India and regional countries, but multi-track dialogues to address some of the abovementioned issues.