The inaugural Government-to-Government (G2G) meeting at Senior Officials level between Mauritius and Australia which was held yesterday afternoon in Port Louis, marked the start of activities of the Australia Week Festival. The Week is being organised, from 5 to 11 April 2018, in the context of the Golden Jubilee Independence celebrations of Mauritius and is also an occasionto honour the strong relations that exist between the two countries since 1970.
Ambassador Mrs U. C. Dwarka Canabady, Secretary for Foreign Affairs (SFA), at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade; the High Commissioner of Australia, Ms Jenny Dee; the Assistant Secretary, Africa Branch, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Canberra, Mrs Gita Kamath, as well as Senior Officials from both Mauritius and Australia attended the meeting.
Discussions focused on bilateral cooperation in the fields of trade, investment, and education and research. Issues relating to regional cooperation, the blue economy, maritime security and renewable energy were also on the agenda.
In her opening remarks the SFA said that twelve international weeks are scheduled this year and which comprise a Government component so as to provide a platform to interact with the organising country more formally and to consolidate our relations.
Ambassador Dwarka Canabady recalled that ties with Australia are particularly special given that the country has a big Mauritius diaspora and that diplomatic relations were established in November 1970, hardly two years after Mauritius attained Independence. Over the years a lot of dynamism has been instilled in our ties as well as momentum being picked up in the relations since then, she said.
The two countries share a lot in common, both are multicultural nations and melting pots and share the same values. Even though Australia is an island continent and Mauritius is far smaller, yet, both are islands and have similar issues on which we have to work together, the Ambassador said. Mauritius and Australia have both services-based economies and Mauritius has a lot to learn from Australia when it comes to the ocean economy, she added.
The Ambassador also mentioned that Mauritius is sugar producer and is now getting in organic farming and producing small niche products with a lot of added value and these products could find good markets in Australia. She spoke of Mauritius strategy to Africa where the country is already investing on the continent and doing whatever it can as a small nation to help grow certain sectors on the continent which includes the setting up of special economic zones in Senegal and Ghana, along with Madagascar and Cote d'Ivoire which are also in the pipeline.
For her part, the Assistant Secretary, Africa Branch, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Canberra, Mrs Gita Kamath, stated that the size of the work agenda for the talks is testimony to the multidimensional nature of our relations and how much potential there is to grow even more. She congratulated Mauritius on its Golden Jubilee celebrations and outlined that Australia is looking forward to celebrating the 50 years of bilateral relations in two years.
Australia Week Festival
The Australia Week Festival is celebrating people-to-people links between Mauritius and Australia among youth, students and the diaspora. It is showcasing the arts and culture and culinary expertise and promoting the diversity of partnerships between Mauritius and Australia and shared values including gender equality.
Activities comprise the following: launch of Ducere Foundation Golden Jubilee collection; 'A taste of Australia Food Festival' featuring a Melbourne-based Chef along with workshops fusing the best of Australian and Mauritian cuisine; 'Australian Design and Cultural Showcase' with Australian film screening and student graphic design competition and exhibition in conjunction with Charles Telfair Institute/Curtin University; and a workshop on Australian Alumni Women in Leadership.
The activities of the Australia Week will culminate with an official tree planting ceremony during which the Australian government will gift to Mauritius a Wollemi Pine, one of the oldest and rarest trees in the world. The Wollemi Pine belongs to the 200 million year old Araucariaceae family and the oldest known fossil is 90 million years old. There are less than 100 mature trees in the wild.