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Remarks by High Commissioner Mrs. K. Nandini Singla at the CECPA Forum

HC’s remarks at the CECPA Forum (13th September 2022)

The Honourable Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius,

Honourable Alan Ganoo, Minister of Land Transport and Light Rail & Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade;

Honourable Renganaden Padayachy, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development;

Members of the diplomatic corps;

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Every day in this paradise island is special, but today is extra special! I feel especially privileged to be the Indian High Commissioner here when India and Mauritius celebrate the 75th anniversary of their diplomatic ties.  It is doubly befitting that we are launching these celebrations today with an economic event that seeks to leverage our first Free Trade Agreement to enhance the prosperity and wellbeing of our people – the objective that has always been at the heart of the uniquely close ties shared by our two brotherly countries.  

  1. India and Mauritius have walked hand-in-hand from the beginning, even before our countries became independent and our diplomatic relations began. Our journey together began when the first Indian indentured labourers set foot on Mauritian soil in 1834; they grew when for more than 50 years, between 1878 and 1934, we shared the same currency – the Indian Rupee. It is no surprise that after our independence, India has always been one of the top three trading partners of Mauritius and Mauritius has always been one of our top three sources of Foreign Direct Investment.

  2. The future of our partnership looks equally promising! Mauritius is at the intersection of three priority areas of India’s foreign policy – our ‘Neighbourhood First’ Policy, our focus on the Indian Ocean Region and our focus on Africa. As we celebrate our 75th year of independence as the world’s 5th largest economy, we look forward to Mauritius continuing as a cherished partner in our continued growth story. It is no surprise therefore, that the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA), which we signed last year with Mauritius, is India’s first such Free Trade Agreement with any African country, and our first such Trade Agreement with any country in a decade. CECPA holds tremendous potential to boost exports since India currently exports only about 3.5% of the total Mauritian imports on the 310 product lines offered by Mauritius to India under CECPA; similarly, Mauritius exports only 0.06% of India’s total imports on the 615 tariff lines offered by India. What is interesting for Mauritian exporters is that 5 top Mauritian products which form 57% of Mauritius’s total exports to India  i.e more than half of Mauritian exports to India, are also included in CECPA.

Ladies & Gentlemen,

  1. While I invite our businesses to explore these opportunities, I am happy that we are already on the right track - in just one year since CECPA came into force, both, Indian exports to Mauritius and Mauritian exports to India grew in tandem, at an impressive 69.03% and 68.66% respectively. Interestingly, in the same period, FDI from Mauritius to India also grew by 66.78%, from USD 5.63bn to USD 9.39bn, making Mauritius the third largest source of FDI to India.

  2. Going beyond the present, just a few weeks ago, both our countries agreed to add a General Economic Cooperation Chapter and a Automatic Trigger Safeguard Mechanism in CECPA with an eye towards business opportunities in futuristic sectors like Healthcare, Pharma, Bio-technology, Renewable Energy, Space Technology, Blue Economy, Ports, Investments and Financial Services. Furthermore, CECPA can position Mauritius as the springboard to Africa, for Indian businesses. It may surprise some to know that with regard to Investments, Mauritius has already emerged as a ‘Hub to Africa’, with over 90% of the over $70 Bn Indian investment into Africa, going to Mauritius or through Mauritius!

  3. As the world focuses on resilient recovery and supply chain strategies in a post-Covid economy buffeted by the ongoing Ukraine war, CECPA can be an ideal platform to explore new post-Covid opportunities, particularly in the African continent. There are tremendous synergies between India and Mauritius, with Mauritius’s dynamic vision of becoming a growth hub for Africa - a ‘Biotechnology Hub’, an ‘Education Hub’, a ‘Data Technology hub’, a ‘Silver Economy’ and a ‘Green Economy’ and with India growing by a record 13.5% in the last quarter (i.e. from April to June this year) to become the fastest growing major economy in the world. To tap into these opportunities, we should explore out-of-the box ideas such as warehousing of Indian goods in Mauritius for export to Africa; setting up Indian SEZs to benefit from Mauritius’ membership of SADC, COMESA, AfCFTA and other Mauritian trade agreements; and easing the movement of businesspersons between India, Mauritius and Africa.

  4. The coming year is special for both our countries, as we celebrate not only our traditionally close ties, but also chart a path for expanding our partnership to exciting new areas. I take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt thanks to His Excellency, the Honorable Prime Minister, for his personal leadership and steadfast support in advancing India-Mauritius relations and for his gracious presence as well as the presence of two Honorable Ministers amidst us today, testifying to the support and commitment of the Government of Mauritius to further deepen this relationship. I sincerely thank the Economic Development Board for taking the initiative to anchor this event and look forward to more such thematic events that are emblematic of our special friendship.

Thank you! Namaskar!

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