The Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA) between India and Mauritius is about to be finalized after talks on the subject were initiated way back in 2004. Observers note that the recent coming into force of the China-Mauritius Free Trade Agreement might have played a catalyzing effect in the decision by Delhi after nearly fifteen years of on-and-off negotiations.
Delhi and Port Louis are keen to highlight that it will be the first FTA between India and an African country. Mauritian Finance Minister, Mr Renganaden Padayachy also expressed the wish for a reinforcement of Mauritius as the investment gateway between Africa and India. In a recent interview with Times of India, former Mauritian Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Nando Bodha highlighted that Mauritius may well be one of the rare African countries where both French and Hindi are commonly spoken.
Actually the Indian External Affairs Minister, Mr S. Jaishankar, is scheduled for an official visit to Mauritius from the 21st to 24th February, 2021. Among the items on the bilateral agenda are the COVID-19 vaccines, Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) of the Indian Ocean and, of course, CECPA. It is also expected that a signing ceremony of the CECPA will take place during this timeframe.
In an interview, Mr Sunil Boodhoo, Director of the International Trade Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mauritius, revealed some details about the CECPA. More than 600 product categories will enjoy preferential access or even be exempted completely from customs duty when entering the massive Indian market with a population of 1.3 billion.
In particular, India has committed to import the following from Mauritius on an annual basis:
– 40,000 metric tonnes of special sugars
– 7.5 million pieces of garments
– 2 million liters of beer
– 1.5 million liters of rhum
Moreover, Mauritius might also be exporting some seafood and medical devices to India.
India has been the largest trading partner of Mauritius for many years with exports of around USD 800M in 2019, of which petroleum made up almost USD 400 million. On the other hand, Mauritius exports amounted to a mere USD 24M with medical devices making up USD 10M.
The CECPA goes a step further and also covers economic cooperation in some 25 sectors such as manufacturing, agribusiness, ICT, SME, etc. Thus, India will assist Mauritius in the upskilling and capacity building in these sectors by providing technical and financial support.
Following the official visit to Mauritius by Mozambican President F.J. Nyusi in 2019, the Phase I of feasibility study report for the implementation of an LNG hub in Mauritius has been completed. The technical expertise of India in that regard is much appreciated and the Mauritian government has now agreed to PwC India to proceed with Phase II of the study.
Indian HC to Mauritius, Mrs N. Singla, observed that Mauritius and India enjoy a “super special relationship.” Despite being itself hard hit by the new coronavirus, India was the first country to supply COVID-19 vaccines to Mauritius free of charge under the Vaccine Maitri (Vaccine of Friendship) program. In addition to the 100,000 doses which India has donated, Mauritius plans to procure another 200-300k doses from the Serum Institute of India. Therefore, it is hoped that the COVID-19 vaccines and the CECPA shall go a long way towards a rebound of the Mauritian economy.