• India signed a $100 million Line of Credit to Mauritius to facilitate the procurement of Indian defence equipment, as the two countries signed a landmark Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Partnership Agreement (CECPA) following talks between Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar and Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth.
• Mauritius is one of India’s key maritime neighbours in the Indian Ocean Region and occupies a special place in Prime Minister Modi’s vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region).
• Jaishankar, who arrived in Port Louis on February 21, reviewed the comprehensive and important bilateral relationship during his meeting with the Indian-origin prime minister.
Significance of CECPA
• Jaishankar said India is privileged to have entered into a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA) with Mauritius.
• This agreement is India’s first-such agreement with an African country. It will provide a timely boost for the revival of economies and also enable Indian investors to use Mauritius as a launch-pad for business expansion into continental Africa helping the prospect of Mauritius emerging as a hub of Africa.
• In such an agreement, two trading partners cut or eliminate duties on a host of products besides liberalising norms to promote services trade.
• The pact would cover 310 export items for India, including foodstuff and beverages, agricultural products, textile and textile articles, base metals, electricals and electronic items, plastics and chemicals, wood and its articles.
• Mauritius would benefit from preferential market access into India for 615 products, including frozen fish, speciality sugar, biscuits, fresh fruits, juices, mineral water, beer, alcoholic drinks, soaps, bags, medical and surgical equipment, and apparel.
• The current global imports of India on these products is well over $15 billion. This is a significant opportunity for Mauritius to benefit from access to the Indian market.
• The pact would cover trade in goods, rules of origin, trade in services, Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, dispute settlement, movement of natural persons, telecom, financial services, customs procedures and cooperation in other areas.
• As regards trade in services, India has offered 95 sub-sectors from 11 broad services sectors. CECPA will surely boost the dynamism of the services sector in Mauritius. The CECPA could also facilitate Indian investment in the services sector in Mauritius, especially in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector as Indian companies could benefit by leveraging the bilingual prowess of Mauritius for investments in Francophone Africa.
Other key points:
• The two sides also signed an agreement which will provide for a Dornier aircraft and an Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv on lease to Mauritius on gratis basis for two years, helping shore up its capabilities to patrol and monitor its extensive maritime domain more effectively.
• Despite challenges, all five development projects announced by India in 2017 under the Special Economic Package, have been completed. These include phase 1 of the Metro Express project, the new Supreme Court building, the new ENT hospital, the supply of electronic tablets for Mauritian school children and 956 Social Housing Units, which will be made operational soon.
• Jaishankar handed PM Jugnauth over 100,000 additional doses of commercially procured ‘Made in India’ COVID-19 vaccines.
• He also called on Mauritius President Prithvirajsing Roopun during which the two leaders discussed the “super special” bilateral relationship.
• Diplomatic relations between India and Mauritius were established in 1948.
• India sees Mauritius as a maritime neighbour. The cultural, historical and ancestral linkages between India and Mauritius have over the decades cemented this shared feeling of proximity. The relationship is further buttressed by strong development cooperation, defence, trade & commercial ties, high-level visits, capacity building through scholarships and ITEC programmes, etc.
• India has been one of the largest trading partners and exporters of goods and services to Mauritius since 2007.
• The bilateral trade between the countries has been dipped to $690 million in 2019-20 from $1.2 billion in 2018-19. While India’s exports in 2019-20 aggregated at $662 million, the imports stood at $27.89 million.
• India’s exports to Mauritius comprises largely petroleum products. Other main items of India’s exports to Mauritius are pharmaceuticals, cereals, cotton, shrimps and prawns. The island nation’s exports to New Delhi include iron and steel, pearls, precious/semi-precious stones and optical, photographic and precision instruments.
• Mauritius was the second top source of foreign direct investment (FDI) into India in 2019-20. India received $8.24 billion foreign inflows from that country in the last fiscal.
• As many as 11 Indian Public Sector Enterprises are currently functioning in Mauritius.
• Indian-origin people constitute nearly 70 per cent of the population of Mauritius. Their ancestors were sent there as indentured labourers during the British rule.