The first Indo-Pacific Business Summit held its virtual inaugural session, this afternoon, under the theme 'Developing a Road Map for Shared Prosperity'. The three-day Summit is organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in partnership with the Ministry of External Affairs of India and seeks to identify current and future trade and investment opportunities within the Indo-Pacific region.
The Minister of Land Transport and Light Rail, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Mr Alan Ganoo, who participated as Guest of Honour from the seat of his Ministry in Newton Tower, Port-Louis, delivered a special address during the event. Representatives from other Governments, enterprises, business chambers, think tanks and academia from countries in the region, also participated.
The key objective of the Summit is to provide a forum to discuss how India and the countries in the Indo Pacific Region can enhance economic partnership and collaborate for future economic development.
The Summit is addressing the following: physical and digital connectivity, development of robust supply chains, start-ups, healthcare, climate change, the blue economy, current and future trade and, investment opportunities in the region.
In his address, Minister Ganoo underscored that the Indo-Pacific region builds on the importance of maritime connection as a crucial vector for charting the development of trade and economic activities. Positing the Indian and Pacific oceans as one contiguous area is the recognition of a reality which highlights the need for accrued regional economic integration and new business frameworks, he added.
Furthermore, the Minister remarked that currently, deep structural changes are taking place as regards the global economy, and the Asia-Pacific region has a major role to play as the new geo-economic landscape will reflect their choices.
Speaking of economic growth, Mr Ganoo recalled that Indo-Pacific countries have been at the forefront of technological innovations but nonetheless, there is a need to reconsider the existing production, trade and logistics arrangements due to recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Foreign Affairs Minister underpinned that the Indo-Pacific region needs mechanisms through which professional bodies can conclude agreements on the recognition of qualifications, licences and registration in areas of mutual interest. This, he indicated, will facilitate the fast movement of skilled labour and qualified professionals, especially in times of urgency.
As regards Mauritius, the Minister pointed out that the country is an ideal base to do business in the Indo-Pacific region as it continually seeks to be more business friendly, notably by increasing market access and mobility of economic operators. The signature of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA) in February 2021 is proof of this, he added.
Minister Ganoo highlighted that Mauritius is a member of the African Continental Free Trade Area and other African groupings and appealed for the integration of the western frontier of the Indo-Pacific region, Eastern Africa, into the strategies of businesses. Africa, Mr Ganoo stated, besides being a market of some 1.2 billion people, stands as a crucial source of materials, including minerals, of key importance for the supply chains of the Indo-Pacific region.
The Minister further recalled that Mauritius has concluded a network of Free Trade Agreements covering nearly 70% of Europe, America, Africa and Asia and is amongst the top 20 countries in the world for ease of doing business. As an International Financial and Business Centre, Mauritius has developed capacity in supporting cross border investments into the Indo-Pacific region and in this context, Mauritius is the best link and base to do business in Africa, he concluded.