Mauritius concluded a trade agreement with India in 2021 – what is in the Agreement?
On 22nd February 2021, Mauritius signed a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA) with India. The CECPA entered into force on 1 April 2021. This is the first time that India has signed a trade agreement with an African nation. The Agreement aims of boost trade between the two countries – both trade in goods and trade in services. Moreover, it appears to be a strategic step for India, supporting its development of stronger partnerships with Africa.
The Agreement provides that exports of more than 615 products from Mauritius will benefit from tariff liberalisation; 376 products will benefit from duty-free access, 127 products (sugar, rum, fruit, wine, among others) will face reduced tariffs, and 112 products will benefit from reduced tariffs under a system of Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs). These TRQs include 7.5 million pieces of garments, and 7000 tons of canned tuna that will enter the Indian market duty free
More than 310 products of Indian origin will benefit from liberalisation and 88 products (including spices, automotive parts, wooden furniture) will trade under favourable Tariff Rate Quotas.
Preferential trade is subject to compliance with the rules of origin agreed by the parties, and Mauritian exporters can obtain the requisite certificates from the Mauritius Revenue Authority’s Customs Department. The Agreement also focuses on customs cooperation with the aim of reducing trade costs and facilitating trade.
Safeguard provisions in the Agreement are available to address import surges that cause or threaten to cause serious harm to the domestic industry. These may be particularly important given the asymmetry in economic size between Mauritius and India.
The coverage of trade in services is important as both countries have strong interests to promote their services sector development. India has agreed to provide market access for Mauritian services in some 95 sub-sectors, including professional, busines and financial services, as well as telecommunications services. The Agreement has a framework for Professional Bodies in India and Mauritius to negotiate mutual recognition agreements for educational and professional qualifications. This part of the agreement will support the ambition of Mauritius to be an educational hub in the Indian Ocean. Students from India will be able to study in Mauritius in various fields including medicine, architecture and accounting.
For the two last decades, the African demand for higher education has been increasing and Mauritius is taking advantage of this trend. In addition to its own public and private tertiary education institutions, several foreign universities have established branch campuses in Mauritius, and the government has signed various partnerships with international universities to deliver diplomas and degrees. The Higher Education Act of 2017 aims to improve the quality of education by providing for the assessment and accreditation of educational programmes.
According to World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index 2020, Mauritius has been ranked the top African country with which to do business and this reflects the government’s efforts. This agreement, signed with India, highlights the pro-trade and investment position of the government of Mauritius. Mauritius has a generous fiscal policy, and comprehensive business facilitation programmes that contribute to an attractive investment environment, not only in the education sector, but across the Mauritian economy. These domestic policies are complementary to the country’s trade policy and support the achievement of the objectives of the trade agreements Mauritius concludes.
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