India’s External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar visited Mauritius on February 21. During his visit, he reviewed the bilateral relations between India and Mauritius. Both countries signed a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA) and several other Memorandum of Agreements (MoU’s). Dr Jaishankar’s last visit to the strategically important country in Indian ocean was four years ago.
Mauritius and India signed cooperation instruments on construction of Renal Transplant Unit, Solar Power Plant, and Consumer Protection and Legal Metrology. India also extended the US$ 100 mn Defence Line of Credit to Mauritius.
Dr Jaishankar congratulated Mauritius on becoming one of the few “COVID safe” countries in the world. During the pandemic, India had extended 23 tonnes of essential medicines, half a million tablets of hydroxychloroquine, a special consignment of Ayurvedic medicines and a 14-member Medical Assistance Team under ‘Mission SAGAR’ to Mauritius. India also supplied 100,000 doses of Made in India Covid-19 vaccines immediately after the vaccine program was rolled out in India. India supplied additional 100,000 doses of vaccines during Dr Jaishankar’s visit.
CECPA with Mauritius is India’s first-such agreement with an African country. The Agreement is expected to provide a timely boost for the revival of post-covid economic relations between Mauritius and India. It will also enable Indian investors to use Mauritius as a launch-pad for business expansion into continental Africa helping the prospect of Mauritius emerging as a ‘hub of Africa’.
As noted by Dr Jaishankar in his speech during his official visit, the CECPA provides preferential access to Mauritius for bulk of the trade and also for many aspirational items for the future into the Indian market. These items include frozen fish, speciality sugar, biscuits, fresh fruits, juices, mineral water, soaps, bags, medical and surgical equipment, and apparel.
“The current global imports of India on these products is well over US$ 15 billion. This is therefore a significant opportunity for Mauritius to benefit from access to the Indian market. Just to illustrate some of the benefits, Mauritius will get preferential access for export of 40,000 tonnes of sugar into India at an early time frame. Similarly, there will also be access for the export of 7.5 million pieces of apparel,” explained Dr Jaishankar in his speech.
Furthermore, India has offered 95 sub-sectors from 11 broad services sectors for trade in services.This could be a boost for Mauritius since around 76% of the GDP of Mauritius comes from the service sector. The CECPA is also expected to facilitate Indian investment in the services sector in Mauritius.
Mauritius also signed an agreement with India which will provide for a Dornier aircraft and an Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv on lease to Mauritius on gratis basis for 2 years. This agreement will enhance Mauritius’ capabilities to patrol and monitor its extensive maritime domain more effectively.
Dr Jaishankar said, “security of Mauritius is the security of India; in the prosperity of Mauritius is our prosperity.”
He visited the new ENT hospital and Supreme Court building built in Mauritius with assistance from India and reviewed the Dagotiere Social Housing Project with Mauritian Housing Minister Louis Steven Obeegadoo . India has extended assistance to several development initiatives with Mauritius including the Supreme Court building, E-tablet project, Metro rapid transport, and system building social housing units etc.
He also discussed the issue of Chagos archipelago with Prime Minister of Mauritius Mr Pravind Jugnauth and assured India’s “principled support” on the issue. The sovereignty of the Chagos archipelago is disputed between Mauritius and the United Kingdom (UK).
Dr Jaishankar also announced “Ayurveda Chair” at the University of Mauritius and “ICCR Chair of Sanskrit & Indian Philosophy” at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute, Mauritius in near future.
Dr Jaishankar visited several dignitaries and leaders in Mauritius including President of Mauritius H.E. Prithvirajsing Roopun, former Prime Minister Rt. Honorable Sir Anerood Jugnauth, Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Land Transport and Light Rail H.E. Mr Alan Ganoo, and Leader of Opposition Dr Arvin Boolell.