The fifth round of negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA) between Mauritius and India opened yesterday at Le Maritim Resort and Spa in Balaclava. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Mr. Seetanah Lutchmeenaraidoo, the Head of the Indian delegation, Joint Secretary for Africa Division of the Department of Commerce, Mr Manoj Kuwar Dwivedi, and other eminent personalities were present on the occasion.
In his address, Minister Lutchmeenaraidoo highlighted that Mauritius as an Ocean State with an Exclusive Economic Zone of 2.3 million km2 needs to make sustainable use of its maritime resources to further boost economic growth and job creation while respecting the ecosystem. He emphasised that with the development of the ocean economy, the landscape of Mauritius will be transformed as well as the quality of life of the population.
The country, he underlined, should tap into the various opportunities by focusing on regional economic cooperation and positioning itself as a gateway to the African continent. On this score, the Minister dwelt on the prospect of using Mauritius as a maritime hub opening new market access, enhancing cross border investment and eliminating trade barriers to Africa.
Minister Lutchmeenaraidoo also outlined the Africa Strategy, which aims at expanding the economic horizons of the country and bringing it to a higher level of cooperation with targeted African States. He recalled that Mauritius is involved in initiatives which include the creation of special economic zones in Madagascar, Kenya, Senegal, Ghana.
As regards the CECPA, he underscored that it forms part of a network that is being put in place to develop partnership with Africa at regional, bilateral and continental levels as well as with other emerging countries such as India and China, in line to further enhancing South-South cooperation. The Comprehensive Agreement is yet to be finalised by December 2018, he underlined.
For his part, Mr Manoj Kuwar Dwivedi, highlighted that both Mauritius and India are exploring bilateral opportunities which will be beneficial for both countries in terms of trade in goods and services. He pointed out that the two countries have their strengths and they will open avenues of opportunities for liberal trade relations. On one side, Mauritius will learn from a big consumer economy like India and on the other hand, India will use Mauritius as a platform to reach out to French Speaking African countries for investment.
The Indian Joint Secretary underscored that the negotiations are progressing in a satisfactory manner while adding that this fifth round of discussion will focus on the services sector. To this end, he expressed his optimism for fruitful discussions which will eventually lead both countries to have preferential market access in key areas of commercial interests.
Fifth round of negotiations on CECPA
The three-day discussions which is being held from 09 to 11 July 2018, is taking stock of the fourth meeting which was held in India. The work agenda comprises: sessions on Trade in Goods and Services; sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures; technical barriers to trade; requests lists; rules of origin and finalisation of economic cooperation chapter.
The conclusion of the CECPA is expected to lift the economic and trade relations between Mauritius and India to a higher level as well as provide an appropriate platform for both countries to jointly explore opportunities on the African market.