A meeting to explore prospective avenues of cooperation and promote and facilitate the development of Japanese business activities in Mauritius was held yesterday in Port Louis. It was chaired by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Mr Seetanah Lutchmeenaraidoo. The objective was also to contribute in the deepening of mutual understanding and the development of economic and trade relations between both Japan and Mauritius.
A Japan Business Mission to Mauritius co-hosted by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industries in South Africa (CCIJ) and the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) participated in the meeting. The Japanese Ambassador to Mauritius, Mr Yoshiharu Kato, and the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Mrs U. C. Dwarka Canabady, were also present.
In his statement, Minister Lutchmeenaraidoo underlined that with the inauguration of the Japanese Embassy in Mauritius, last year, an era of greater cooperation is being defined not only with regards to the private sector but also at the level of Government-to-Government. He encouraged Japanese companies to use Mauritius as a base to invest in Africa and suggested that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade or the Board of Investment could act as coordination centre for those companies.
Speaking about the advantages offered by Mauritius, the Minister explained that the situation of the country is quite exceptional as it is a member of all major African organisations, that is, African Union, COMESA, and SADC. The country is now completing trilateral negotiations whereby the EAC-SADC-COMESA will become one organisation and the countries signing this agreement will have access to 600 million consumers, he pointed out. In addition, a free trade zone, Jin Fei, will be launched in Mauritius and the country is part of Africa, offers facilities of ease of doing business, and will be setting up a regional Renminbi clearing centre with China for Southern Africa, he stated.
During the meeting, the Minister invited Japanese investors to consider using Mauritius as a regional headquarter for their companies. The Bank of Tokyo and Insurance companies have also been invited to open a branch in Mauritius. Moreover, Mr Lutchmeenaraidoo expressed confidence that a strong-member Mauritian delegation will go to Japan to further deepen relations with Japan, and announced the hosting of a Japanese week to mark the 50th anniversary celebration of Mauritius's accession to Independence.
For his part, the Japanese Ambassador to Mauritius, Mr Yoshiharu Kato observed that the Japanese-Mauritian ties are being enhanced and the presence of the Japan Business Mission to Mauritius represents an effort in reinforcing our relationships and these efforts will be perpetuated.
The Head of Mission of the Japan Business Mission to Mauritius and also Managing Director of Sumitomo Corporation Africa, Mr Kazuyuki Takahashi, expressed a keen interest in building a strong partnership and working together with Mauritius in terms of business ventures and investment prospects, and also to further unlock Mauritius's and Africa's potential.
The CCIJ is currently undertaking a three-day prospecting mission in Mauritius to explore investment opportunities in industries such as Financial Services, ICT, Logistics, Textiles and Agri-business. Moreover, since the last TICAD VI (6th Tokyo International Conference in African Development Summit) hosted in 2016, in Kenya, CCIJ member companies have been looking for new opportunities to expand their businesses not only in South Africa but also to the Sub-Saharan African region including Mauritius.
Japan's increasing interest in Mauritius has been demonstrated with the inauguration of the first Embassy of Japan in Mauritius in January 2017. Both Mauritius and Japan share solid bilateral, friendly and cultural ties based on mutual respect.