A high-level committee pertaining to the application of Free Trade Agreements signed with countries such as India, China and Africa, was held this morning, at Newton Tower in Port Louis. The meeting was chaired by the Minister of Industrial Development, SMEs and Cooperatives, Mr Soomilduth Bholah, and brought together several stakeholders of the Private Sector.
The representatives from the Economic Development Board, Business Mauritius, Mauritius Export Association, the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), SME Mauritius as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, were present. The high-level committee served as a platform to review the three new Free Trade Agreements (FTA) signed by Mauritius and that have come into force this year.
In a statement after the meeting, Minister Bholah indicated that discussions focused on the main components of each FTA, notably the Mauritius-China FTA, the Africa Continent Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) and the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA).
The high-level committee, he pointed out, reviewed the challenges and opportunities that these Trade Agreements offer in terms of substantial business opportunities to the Mauritian economy by opening new market access as well as eliminating trade barriers.
As regards the FTAs, Mr Bholah indicated that they comprise the creation of a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons, and also cover tariff lines including those from China, Africa and Mauritius at the level of trade in goods, investment and economic cooperation.
Furthermore, the Minister underscored that prospects for international operators exist in sectors such as construction, energy, artificial intelligence and Port development. He added that opportunities can also be found in financial services, telecommunications, architecture, research and development and, higher education services.
As regards the SMEs, Minister Bholah highlighted that they play a key role in the economy and the development of Mauritius. SMEs are now being called upon to play a major role in positioning Mauritius as a major regional and continental education hub, he added.
For his part, the Secretary-General of the MCCI, Dr Yousouf Ismael, observed that it is time for other countries to believe in the potential of Mauritius and tap on the wealth of resources and build the value chain.
Producing high-end quality products will unlock new market access and foster export diversification that will ultimately build resilience to movements in demand due to global economic downturns, he said.
He underpinned that a proper framework is necessary so as to make the most of the opportunities offered by the FTAs by boosting trade and commerce.
In this context, the MCCI will lead in areas such as: product and market development; customisation of products pertaining to specific FTAs; increasing capacity of production pertaining to specific FTAs; re-skilling and up-skilling of labour; standardisation of products; promotion and encouragement of investments for SMEs and; and development of financial services within the FTAs framework.