India Mauritius Bilateral Brief India - Mauritius

India Mauritius Bilateral Brief

High Commission of India

Port Louis

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India-Mauritius Bilateral Relations

Mauritius Overview

     Mauritius is an island nation in the western Indian Ocean. Indian origin people comprise nearly 70% of island’s population of 1.3 million (28% Creole, 3% Sino-Mauritian, 1% Franco-Mauritian). Mauritius is former British and earlier a French colony. It gained independence from British rule in 1968. The economy of Mauritius is dependent upon tourism, financial services, ICT, sugar and textiles. Mauritius is an upper middle income country (GDP [at current prices] is approximately USD 11 billion; and per capita GDP [in PPP terms] of approximately USD 10,230).

2. From 1834, when slavery was abolished by the British Parliament, large numbers of Indian workers began to be brought to Mauritius as indentured workers. First batch of these workers, comprising of 36 persons, arrived in Mauritius on November 2, 1834 onboard a British ship called ‘Atlas’. This day is now observed in Mauritius as ‘Aapravasi Diwas’. In all, about half a million Indian indentured workers are estimated to have been brought to Mauritius between 1834 and the early decades of the 20th century. About two-thirds of these workers permanently settled down in Mauritius. As a result, Indian origin population today constitutes approximately 2/3rd of the Mauritian population.

Bilateral Relations

3. Formal diplomatic relations between India and Mauritius were established in 1948, i.e. before the independence of Mauritius. India was represented by a Commission between 1948 and 1968 and a High Commission after Mauritius’ independence. Earlier, Mauritius maintained contacts with India through successive Dutch, French and British colonial rule.

4. Leadership of the two countries enjoy high level of trust and mutual understanding, this is reflected from continued high level of political engagement. The two countries have also been cooperating on several large developmental projects in Mauritius.

5. Mahatma Gandhi en route to India from South Africa made a brief stopover (October 29 to November 15, 1901), in Mauritius. As a tribute to Gandhiji and the Indian freedom struggle, the National Day of Mauritius is celebrated on March 12 (the date of launch of Dandi Salt March).

6. Some of the recent visits by senior leadership of the two countries are listed below.

High level visits in 2018:

  • Acting President of Mauritius, Paramasivam Pillay Vyapoory, visited India from 8-18 October 2018 to attend the 1st Pondicherry Global Economic Summit 2019 and the 5th World Tamils Economic Conference in Pondicherry.
  • The 11th World Hindi Conference (WHC) was held in Mauritius from 18-20 August 2018. The Inaugural ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth and then EAM, late Smt. Sushma Swaraj.
  • President Shri Ram Nath Kovind, paid a four-day State Visit to Mauritius from 11-14 March 2018. He was the Chief Guest for 50th anniversary of Independence of Mauritius.

High level visits in 2019:

  • Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth visited India from 20-28 January 2019 to attend 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) in Varanasi as Chief Guest and to attend the Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj.
  • On the official invitation of PM Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth visited India on 30-31 May 2019 and attended the swearing-in ceremony of PM Modi’s Cabinet. He held an official meeting with PM Modi on 31 May 2019.

[No incoming/outgoing visits could take place in the year 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic]

High level visits in 2021:

  • EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar visited Mauritius on 22-23 February, 2021. During the visit, important agreements, such as the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA) and a Defence Line Of Credit (LOC) of $100 mn were signed.

Covid-19 assistance

7. India and Mauritius have been cooperating closely to tackle the unprecedented challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak in 2020. The new ENT Hospital, built with India’s assistance and inaugurated in 2019, has emerged as the key Covid treatment centre and has been a timely addition to the Mauritian healthcare system.

8. Responding to a request from the Government of Mauritius (GoM), 13 tonnes of essential lifesaving medicines were flown from India to Mauritius on 15 April 2021 via a special Air India flight. This included half a million tablets of Hydroxychloroquine.

9. The second consignment of Indian essential medicines which included about 10 tonnes of Ayurvedic medicines including Chyawanprash, arrived on 23 May 2020 in Mauritius on board INS Kesari, as part of ‘Mission SAGAR’ to deliver Covid-19 assistance to the Indian Ocean countries. An Indian Rapid Response Medical Assistance Team comprising a Community Medicine Specialist, a Pulmonologist and an Anesthesiologist also arrived on board INS Kesari to assist Mauritian health authorities.

10. India was also the first country to supply Covid-19 vaccines to Mauritius. On 22 January 2021, a consignment of 100,000 doses of ‘Made in India’ Covishield vaccines was gifted to GoM, as part of Mission ‘Vaccine Maitri’, within a week of launching India’s own vaccination campaign on 16 January 2021. Mauritius launched its Covid vaccination campaign on 26 January 2021, coinciding with the Republic Day of India. This was followed by the handing over of another 1,00,000 doses of Covishield that were commercially procured by GoM, on 22 February 2021 during the visit of EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar, to Mauritius. An additional consignment of 2,00,000 doses of COVAXIN was procured by GoM from M/s. Bharat Biotech on 18 March 2021.

11. As a mark of their appreciation for all the help extended by India in dealing with the pandemic, Mauritius donated 200 oxygen concentrators to India on April 28, 2021, during the challenging second wave of Covid-19 in India.

12. A ten-member medical team from India comprising of doctors, nursing officers and specialists dealing with COVID-19 cases visited Mauritius from March 5-12, 2022 as part of a bilateral exchange programme to share best practices regarding the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commercial Relations

13. Since 2005, India has been among the largest trading partners of Mauritius, and has been one of the largest exporters of goods and services to Mauritius. Indian exports to Mauritius are 23 times larger than its imports. The bilateral trade between India and Mauritius has registered a growth of 125% from USD 206.76 million in Financial Year (FY) 2005-06 to USD 465.51 million in FY 2020-21. India’s exports to Mauritius registered a growth of 112% from USD 199.43 million in FY 2005-06 to USD 422.91 million in FY 2020-21, while India’s imports from Mauritius increased from USD 7.33 million in 2005-06 to USD 42.61 million in FY 2020-21. A trade surplus of USD 380.3 million in India’s favour was registered in 2020-21.

14. In FY 2020-2021, India exported goods worth US$ 423 million to Mauritius and imported goods worth US$ 43 million from Mauritius, as shown in the table below:-

INDIA’S TRADE WITH MAURITIUS (Values in US $ Millions)

Sl. No.

Year

2015-2016

2016-2017

2017-2018

2018-2019

2019-2020

2020-2021

2021-2022

(Apr-Jan)

1.

EXPORT

855.73

881.38

1,077.15

1160.78

662.13

422.91

636.67

2.

IMPORT

20.36

18.37

20.69

71.59

27.89

42.61

60.40

3.

TOTAL TRADE

876.09

899.75

1097.84

1232.37

690.02

465.51

697.07

(Export-Import Data Bank, DGFT)

15. Petroleum products have been the largest export item, by value, in Indian exports to Mauritius. The share of petroleum products in India’s total exports to Mauritius was USD 670.63 mn (62.26 %) in 2017-2018, USD 746.43 mn (64.30%) in 2018-19, USD 269.29 mn (40.67%) in 2019-20, USD 99.02 mn (23.41%) in 2020-21 and USD 288.84 mn (45.37%) in 2021-2022 (Apr-Jan). Besides petroleum products, main items of India’s exports to Mauritius are pharmaceuticals, cereals, cotton, shrimps and prawns, frozen boneless bovine meat. Main items of Mauritius’ exports to India are vanilla, instruments and apparatus for medical/surgical sciences, needles, aluminium alloys, waste/scrap of paper/ paperboard, refined copper, men's or boys' shirts of cotton (not knitted or crocheted), light vessels, fire-floats, floating crane, float dock, and other jewellery (whether or not plated/clad with precious metal).

16. FDI: Cumulative FDI equity inflows from Mauritius to India during the period April 2000 - December 2021 amounted to USD 155 billion (27% of total FDI inflows into India over this period), thanks largely due to the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA). With the signing of the amendment to the Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC) with Mauritius on 10 May 2016, sale of shares of an Indian resident company would be taxed at 50% of the applicable rate between April 1, 2017 and March 31, 2019, and capital gains tax are fully taxable with effect from April 1, 2019. Since 2016, FDI inflows from Mauritius to India have been reduced to one-third, from USD 15.72 bn in 2016-17 to USD 5.63 bn in 2020-21.

17. Mauritius was the third largest source of FDI into India during the financial year 2020-21, with FDI equity inflows amounting to USD 5.63 billion. FDI equity inflows from Mauritius to India for the period April-December 2021-22 amounted to USD 6.58 billion. According to GoM, Indian companies have invested over US$ 200 million in Mauritius in the last five years.

18. Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA): Mauritius and India signed a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA) on 22 February 2021, during the visit of the External Affairs Minister Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. It came into force on 1 April 2021. The India-Mauritius CECPA is the first trade agreement signed by India with an African country and the first such agreement signed by India since 2011.

19. Under CECPA, Mauritius will provide preferential access to India on 310 products, with Tariff Rate Quotas on 88 products such as spices, tea, plastic articles, wooden furniture, parts of motor vehicles, amongst others. Under the agreement, Indian service providers will have access to around 115 sub-sectors from the 11 broad service sectors such as professional services, computer-related services, research & development, other business services, telecommunication, construction, distribution, education, environmental, financial, tourism & travel-related, recreational, yoga, audio-visual services, and transport services. Mauritius will benefit from preferential market access into India for 615 products, including frozen fish, specialty sugar, biscuits, fresh fruits, juices, mineral water, beer, alcoholic drinks, soaps, bags, medical and surgical equipment, and apparel. Mauritian service providers will have access to around 95 sub-sectors from 11 broad service sectors, such as professional services, R&D, other business services, telecommunication, financial, distribution, higher education, environmental, health, tourism and travel related services, recreational services and transport services.

20. Indian Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) in Mauritius: At present, 11 Indian PSUs are currently functioning in Mauritius. The Bank of Baroda (BoB), Life Insurance Corporation (LIC), and New India Assurance Corporation (NIAC) were the first to establish operations, followed by other PSUs including Telecommunications Consultant India Ltd (TCIL), Indian Oil (Mauritius) Limited (IOML), Mahanagar Telephone (Mauritius) Ltd. and State Bank of India (SBI) (Mauritius) Limited, National Building and Construction Company Ltd (NBCC), Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES), Hospital Services Consultancy Corporation Ltd. (HSCC) and EdCIL (India) Ltd. Besides their core work, the PSUs have also contributed to various activities in Mauritius under their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) schemes.

India-assisted Projects

21. Government of India in May 2016 agreed to provide a grant of USD 353 million to the Government of Mauritius (GoM) as a Special Economic Package (2016) to execute five priority projects identified by GoM, namely (i) Metro Express Project - USD 275 million; (ii) Supreme Court Building - USD 30 million; (iii) New ENT Hospital - USD 14 million; (iv) Social Housing project - USD 20 million; (v) Supply of digital tablets to primary school children - USD 14 million. All of these projects have now been completed. The Metro Express Project and the ENT Hospital were jointly e-inaugurated by the Prime Ministers of the two countries on October 3, 2019 and the Supreme Court project was jointly e-inaugurated on July 30, 2020. The two Prime Ministers jointly inaugurated the Social Housing Units Project on January 20, 2022 through virtual mode. On the occasion, virtual foundation stone laying ceremony for two other India-assisted projects was also held: (i) construction of a state-of-the-art Civil Service College; (ii) 8 MW Solar PV Farm.

22. India also extended a Line of Credit (LoC) of USD 500 mn in 2017 to Mauritius to finance social and infrastructure projects. In February 2021, during EAM’s visit, an agreement was signed between India and Mauritius for the extension of a USD 100 mn LoC to Mauritius for the purpose of financing procurement of defence equipment from India. Further, in October 2021, GoI approved an additional LoC of 190 mn and a grant of USD 10 mn to GoM, for the implementation of Phase III of the Metro Express project. On January 20, 2022, the two sides also signed a MoU on the Implementation of Small Development Projects in Mauritius.

23. Other India-assisted projects completed in Mauritius, include the Upadhyay Training Centre, the Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital, the Subramania Bharati Eye Centre, the Rajiv Gandhi Science Centre and the Swami Vivekananda International Conference Centre (SVICC). The Cyber Tower in the business district of Mauritius (Ebene), construction of which was completed with Indian assistance in 2005, was renamed as Atal Bihari Vajpayee Tower in August 2018.

Other institutions built with India’s assistance

24. The Mahatma Gandhi Institute (MGI) was established in 1976 as a joint venture between the Government of India and the Government of Mauritius for the promotion of Indian culture and education. It also hosts the ICCR Chair in Sanskrit and Indian Philosophy.

25. The Rabindranath Tagore Institute (RTI) was established with the assistance of the Government of India in 2000 as a Centre of Studies on Indian culture and traditions.

26. Mauritius also hosts the World Hindi Secretariat, an India-Mauritius bilateral organization which was inaugurated during the visit of President in March 2018. The funding for the construction of World Hindi Secretariat was provided by the Government of India.

Cultural Relations

27. India and Mauritius are both, multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic and multi-cultural countries. With the majority of Mauritian population tracing its origins to India, the composite culture of Mauritius has many aspects common with India’s diverse cultural heritage.

28. India established the Indira Gandhi Centre for Indian Culture (IGCIC) in Mauritius in the year 1987. The IGCIC is one of the largest centres of ICCR, has emerged as an important venue for promotion of Indian cultural activities in Mauritius. The IGCIC holds classes in disciplines of Hindustani music, Kathak, Tabla and Yoga for Mauritian students.

29. An active network of more than 1000 registered local socio-cultural organizations and Indian language unions (Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Kannada, Urdu) that promote cultural links with India, add further strength and vitality to the vibrant people-to-people contacts between India and Mauritius.

ITEC and other scholarships

30. Mauritius is one of the largest beneficiary countries of the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme and receives every year, about 200 training slots for civilian ITEC programmes and around 160 slots for Defence ITEC programmes.

31. Mauritius is the largest beneficiary of Africa Scholarships under IAFS with 70 ICCR scholarships extended annually to Mauritian students for higher education in India. About 200 Mauritian students also enrol themselves in Indian Universities every year on a self-financing basis. India ranks fourth among the top destination countries preferred by Mauritian students for tertiary education. Since 2020, India has also started offering scholarships to Mauritian learners under the e-Vidya Bharti Arogya Bharti (e-VBAB) project for distance learning, with 86 enrollments for the July 2020 session and 192 enrollments for the January 2021 session.

Indian Community & OCI Card

32. Approximately 12,300 Indian nationals are currently residing in Mauritius. A special carve-out for OCI Cards for Mauritian nationals, with Indian lineage traceable upto the 6th generation, was announced during the 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in January 2017. The number of OCI card holders in Mauritius is about 9,587. Mauritius introduced a visa-free regime for Indian tourists in October 2004, whereby Indian tourists visiting Mauritius for a period up to 30 days do not require a visa. Mauritians are entitled to gratis E-tourist visa for visiting India.

Useful Resources:

Website: hcimauritius.gov.in

Twitter handle: @ HCI_PortLouis

Facebook page: facebook.com/indiainmauritius

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March 2022



 

 

 

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