Mauritius: The first Mauritius-China FTA Cooperation Forum opened today at the Intercontinental Mauritius Resort in Balaclava in the margin of the First Mauritius-China FTA Joint Commission.
The forum aimed at disseminating information about the FTA, discussing ways of expanding businesses and brainstorming on the strategies that Mauritius and China may develop and implement in order to capitalise on the FTA, both in terms of trade and investment.
The Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Dr Renganaden Padayachy; the Attorney General, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Maneesh Gobin; the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Mauritius, Liying Zhu; the Head of the Chinese Delegation, Director of Department of World Trade Organisation Affairs, Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China, Han Yang; the Chairman of the Economic Development Board, Hemraj Ramnial; and other personalities were present.
In his keynote address, Minister Padayachy highlighted the substantial support that Mauritius has benefited from the Chinese Government in recent years in terms of financial and technical assistance, including grants, interest-free loans and preferential loans from the China Exim Bank, technical assistance in a number of priority sectors such as health, agriculture, social housing, security and air transport.
He further observed that since the entry into force of the FTA, Mauritius has issued 302 certificates of origin under the Agreement for an export value of over Rs 750 million. HE SAID THAT the FTA allows Mauritian companies to export 8,227 duty-free products to China for its 1.4 billion consumers.
The Finance Minister further highlighted that total exports in 2019 amounted to Rs 78.8 billion. According to Statistics Mauritius, total exports for 2023 are forecast at Rs 110 billion, representing a growth of 7.8% compared with 2022.
As regards Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), he indicated that Mauritius’s record for FDI in 2022 stood at Rs 27.6 billion. The Bank of Mauritius recently reported incoming FDI flows of Rs 7.2 billion in the first quarter of 2023, and the target is to reach the historic Rs 30 billion mark in FDI for 2023, he noted.
Minister Padayachy is hopeful for Mauritius to achieve a growth of 8% for the fiscal year 2023-2024 and a growth of over 6% in 2023. As for public debt, he indicated that it stood at 92% in June 2021 and is currently at 79%, which is already below the International Monetary Fund’s fiscal anchor of 80%, adding that the long-term objective is to attain below 60%.
For his part, Minister Gobin observed that the Mauritius-China FTA, which entered into force on 01 January 2021, has the potential to transform the economic landscape of Mauritius. It has added to the network of trade agreements signed by Mauritius to create a more transparent and predictable trading environment for the business community; he pointed out.
He said Mauritius has exported goods valued at around $15 million to China while bilateral trade has also increased. For him, a coherent and well-structured strategy should be developed and implemented to maximise on the FTA’s opportunities.
The Foreign Affairs Minister observed that Mauritius, located between Asia and Africa, is a natural gateway for investors targeting the African market. The Mauritius-China FTA provides for the protection of investors and their investments against discriminatory and unfair treatment and a platform to leverage Sino-Mauritian cooperation into mainland Africa, he underlined.
The FTA also provides a basis for enhanced collaboration between the two countries to engage jointly in Africa, especially in the Special Economic Zones, he added.
Similarly, the Chinese Ambassador highlighted the considerable increase in exchanges between Mauritius and China, estimated at 20.5% and 15.8% in the first two years of the FTA. He invited economic operators to adopt more innovative approaches under the FTA to propel China-Mauritius cooperation to new heights of development.
As for Mr Yang, he remarked that the FTA will bring new opportunities for developing countries such as Mauritius. The Agreement, he stated, plays an important role in bilateral trade between China and Mauritius while laying solid foundations for future cooperation.
The Chairman of the EDB pointed out that the forum will facilitate the smooth implementation of the Mauritius- China FTA. The two countries will benefit from duty free access to a wide array of products, including ICT, telecommunications, construction, and financial services, he said.