India signed a free trade and investment agreement with Mauritius on Tuesday, the first with any country in Africa. It was also the first time since 2011 that India was signing a free trade pact with any country. Announcing this in Port Louis, foreign minister S Jaishankar said the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA) “will provide a timely boost for the revival of our post-Covid economies and 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’.” In his first visit there as foreign minister, Jaishankar also handed over another 1,00,000 doses of Covid vaccines to Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth. India had earlier flown over 1,00,000 doses in January.
For Mauritius, the Indian market for frozen fish, specialty sugar, biscuits, fresh fruits, juices, mineral water, soaps, bags, medical and surgical equipment, and apparel will open up. “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,” Jaishankar said.
In services, Jaishankar said, India has offered 95 sub-sectors from 11 broad services sectors. “Services contribute, I believe, 76% of the GDP of Mauritius, and CECPA will surely boost the dynamism of the services sector in Mauritius. The CECPA could also facilitate Indian investment in the services sector in Mauritius.”
Mauritius being a crucial security partner in the Indian Ocean region, India has leased out a Dornier aircraft and an Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv “on a gratis basis for 2 years.” Jaishankar described India’s assistance and presence for Mauritius as “responsive, resolute and reliable.”