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Context: India and Mauritius held the 1st session of India-Mauritius High-Powered Joint Trade Committee.
- The High-Powered Joint Trade Committee had been constituted as per the mandate of the India-Mauritius Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership agreement (CECPA), to review the general functioning and implementation of the India-Mauritius CECPA which entered into force on 1stApril, 2021.
- CECPA is the first trade Agreement signed by India with a country in Africa.
- Appreciating the growth of the bilateral merchandise trade between India and Mauritius, which rose to USD 786.72 million in 2021-22 from USD 690.02 million in 2019-20, both sides agreed to enhance bilateral collaboration to further increase bilateral trade and realize the true potential of the bilateral relationship especially under the CECPA.
- Both sides agreed to the inclusion of the General Economic Cooperation (GEC) Chapter and Automatic Trigger Safeguard Mechanism (ATSM) in CECPA.
- The GEC chapter will enable enhancement of export competitiveness and enlarging the existing scope for collaboration, inter-alia, in the fields of Investments, Financial Services, Textile, Small and Medium Enterprises, Handicrafts, Gems and Jewellery, Information and Communication Technology, Film Production, Space Technology, Blue Economy, Port Infrastructure, Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals & Bio-technology, Competition Policy, Renewable Energy etc.
- Extensive interactions were held between both the sides in Services sector with regard to establishing equivalence in certification, skills and licensing requirements of various professional bodies and exploring collaboration/ cooperation arrangement between Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship and its counterpart in Mauritius on developing skill-sets.
- Mauritian side, while conveying the shortage of professionals in Mauritius in various sectors such as ICT, Financial Services, Film production, Engineering, Health, Tourism/Hospitality and Ocean Economy etc., welcomed movement of high skilled professionals from India to Mauritius.
- Both the sides expressed willingness to enter into a Customs Mutual Administrative Assistance Agreement (CMMA) and agreed to initiate discussions on the Agreement soon.
- Affirming mutual keenness in diversifying and expanding trade basket, the two sides discussed additional market access issues and agreed to discuss bilateral recognition arrangements of equivalence on SPS and TBT measures.
- Both sides also agreed to identify bilateral focal points to further strengthen bilateral institutional cooperation.
Other Recent Developments:
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of Mauritius jointly inaugurated the Social Housing Units Project in Mauritius.
- India and Mauritius signed a $100 million Defense Line of Credit agreement, which is a part of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA).
- These projects are transparent and demand-driven, with full ownership for the Maldives government.
- India was the first to send a medical consignment to Mauritius to deal with the COVID pandemic and this included Hydrocloroquine (HCQ) tablet and other essential medicines.
- India and Mauritius share close ties anchored in common history, ancestry, culture and language.
- Mauritius is a key development partner for India in the Indian Ocean Region.
- India has been engaging with the country based in the Indian Ocean Region and it is focused on people-oriented projects.
- Diplomatic relations between India and Mauritius were established in 1948.
- Mauritius maintained contacts with India through successive Dutch, French and British occupation.
- Following Mauritius’ independence on March 12, 1968, the first Prime Minister accorded centrality to India in Mauritius’ foreign policy.
- High level visits have been one of the significant aspects of bilateral relations.
- Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam was the only non-SAARC leader to be invited to witness the swearing in ceremony of the new Governmentin New Delhi in May 2014.
- India and Mauritius have signed a wide range of bilateral agreements and MoUs. Some of them are the Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC-1982), Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPA-1998), MoU on Cooperation in Ocean Economy (2015), and MoU in the field of Traditional Systems of Medicine (2015) etc.
- Some high-visibility Indian-assisted projects in Mauritius include the Mahatma Gandhi Institute, Cyber Tower at Ebene and the Swami Vivekananda International Conference Centre (SVICC).
- CECPA: The free trade agreement between India and Mauritius seeks to mutually benefit both the countries as negotiations includes goods, services, rules of origin, technical barriers to trade and sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures, trade remedies and dispute settlement.
- FDI:Mauritius was the second top source of foreign direct investment (FDI) into India in 2018-19. India received USD 8 billion (about Rs 56,000 crores) foreign inflows from the country.
- Trade:The bilateral trade between the countries increased marginally to USD 1.2 billion in 2018-19 from USD 1.1 billion in 2017-18.
- Besides petroleum products, main items of India’s exports to Mauritius are pharmaceuticals, cereals, cotton, electrical machinery, apparel and clothing accessories.
- Main items of Mauritius’ exports to India are iron and steel, pearls, precious/semi-precious stones and optical, photographic and precision instruments.
- India also provides extensive capacity building and training inputsto the Mauritian armed forces, besides carrying out regular joint 4 patrolling/surveillance exercises and in the Mauritian EEZ.
- Over the past forty years, India has extended several Lines of Credit to Mauritiusto assist in the development of its infrastructure, human resource, skills development, capacity building, project appraisal, etc.
- The Indira Gandhi Centre for Indian Culture (IGCIC)at Phoenix is one of the largest centres of ICCR, which from March 2000, has emerged as an important venue for promotion of Indian cultural activities in Mauritius.
- Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC)has been India’s flagship capacity building programme since its inception in 1964 and has acquired a strong brand name in India’s development partnership with Mauritius.
- The Pan African e-Network Projectwas inaugurated on February 26, 2009 in Mauritius, which connected it other African countries and India through a satellite and fiber-optic network.
- Around 100 ICCR scholarships are extended annually to Mauritianstudents for higher education in India.
- Mauritius organises a Bhojpuri Mahotsav.
- As around 68 per cent of Mauritius's total population of over 1.2 million are people of Indian origin.Most of them are descendants of indentured labour taken from India between 1834 and the early decades of the 20th century.
- There are around 750 OCI Card holders and about 3500 PIO Card holders.
- To increase tourism inflow from India, Mauritian Government had introduced a visa-free regime for Indian tourists.
- India and Mauritius long-standing and time-tested strategic relationship are based on deep emotional bonds of kinship and culture and new emerging area of cooperation like Blue Economy and collaboration in Africa.
- Finalisation of the CECPA would pave the way for giving a strong impetus to the close bilateral economic partnership