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Home / News / World /  Mauritius can be India’s gateway to Africa: Mauritian trade minister

Mauritius can be the gateway for Indian businesses to access opportunities in the African continent taking advantage of the new African continental free trade agreement, Alan Ganoo, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade of Mauritius said on Tuesday.

“There is growing interest among Indian businesses to access opportunities in the African continent. Ours is the first trade agreement signed by India with an African country. Indian manufacturers can move part of their manufacturing processes to Mauritius and produce for the African market. We already have duty free access to 600 million consumers by virtue of our membership in Comesa (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) and SADC (South African Development Community). The African continental free trade agreement which came into force on the 1 January this year opens up trade and investment opportunities of a much larger market of 1.3 billion consumers. This is in addition to the duty-free access to the European Union, Chinese and US markets. Any investor located in Mauritius will be able to access these markets on preferential terms," Ganoo said speaking at an event organised by PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The comprehensive economic cooperation agreement (CECPA) between India and Mauritius came into force on 1 April. The CECPA covers 310 Indian export items, including food and beverages, agricultural products, textiles, base metals, electricals and electronic items, plastics and chemicals and products made of wood. In turn, Mauritius benefits from preferential market access to India for 615 products such as frozen fish, speciality sugar, biscuits, fresh fruits, juices, mineral water, beer, alcoholic drinks, soaps, bags, medical and surgical equipment, and apparel. The move will remove barriers to imports and exports, and also promote services trade.

Santi Bai Hanoomanjee, High Commissioner of Mauritius to India said the CECPA also provides opportunities to Indian institutions to set up businesses in the education and healthcare sectors in Mauritius and explore the vast African market. “Mauritius can act as the platform for Indian businesses to set up their production units and export their products to African markets," she said.

Hanoomanjee said Mauritius has an attractive taxation policy with a harmonized tax rate of 15% for corporate tax. “There is no capital gain tax and dividends are tax exempt. Import of machinery, equipment and raw materials are exempt of customs duty and foreign investors can retain 100% shareholding. Companies investing in manufacturing of pharmaceutical products, medical devices, high tech products, food processing can benefit from an eight-year tax holiday," she added.

In FY20, India exported goods worth $662 million and imported commodities worth $28 million from Mauritius. “Trade remains below existing potential. They can be substantially increased if the opportunities of the CECPA are fully utilized. CECPA offers win-win opportunities to both Indian exporters and importers. It includes India’s access to Mauritian market by eliminating or reducing tariffs on goods and removing regulatory burden in the service sectors," Ganoo said.

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