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With Pacific islanders

Business Standard 

India will play host to the second summit of the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) on August 21 in Jaipur.

The first FIPIC summit was held in Suva, Fiji, in November 2014 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was there on a bilateral visit. FIPIC was formed at that time, with India and 14 Pacific Island countries as members.

These countries are Fiji, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Why are these countries so important ? Just as in Africa, India is competing with China to secure their affections. Trade with the countries during 2014-15 was small in volume - about $ 300 million between the Pacific Island countries and India, with exports around $ 200 million and imports around $ 100 million. The largest country for bilateral trade is Papua New Guinea because of the oil and gas. But, Fiji is also important.

These countries are crucial for two other reasons - climate change, where they are expected to side with India because they are most at risk from challenges of climate change; and the reorganisation of the United Nations, where 12 of the 14 have these voting rights. Of them, 11 support India's elevation as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

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First Published: Mon, August 17 2015. 00:37 IST