India to sign comprehensive trade pact with Mauritius

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the signing of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA) between India and Mauritius providing an institutional mechanism to encourage and improve trade between the two countries.

The India-Mauritius CECPA will be the first trade agreement to be signed by India with a country in Africa. The pact is a limited agreement which will cover Trade in Goods, Rules of Origin, Trade in Services, Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, Dispute Settlement, Movement of Natural Persons, Telecom, Financial services, Customs Procedures and cooperation in other areas.

The CECPA between India and Mauritius covers 310 export items for India, including food stuff and beverages (80 lines), agricultural products (25 lines), textile and textile articles (27 lines), base metals and articles thereof (32 lines), electricals and electronic items (13 lines), plastics and chemicals (20 lines), wood and articles thereof (15 lines), and others.

Mauritius will benefit from preferential market access into India for its 615 products, including frozen fish, speciality sugar, biscuits, fresh fruits, juices, mineral water, beer, alcoholic drinks, soaps, bags, medical and surgical equipment, and apparel.

As regards trade in services, Indian service providers will have access to around 115 sub-sectors from the 11 broad service sectors such as professional services, computer-related services, research & development, other business services, telecommunication, construction, distribution, education, environmental, financial, tourism and travel-related, recreational, yoga, audio-visual services, and transport services.

India has offered around 95 sub-sectors from the 11 broad services sectors, including professional services, R&D, other business services, telecommunication, financial, distribution, higher education, environmental, health, tourism and travel-related services, recreational services and transport services.

Both sides have also agreed to negotiate an Automatic Trigger Safeguard Mechanism (ATSM) for a limited number of highly sensitive products within two years of the signing of the agreement.

The agreement will be signed by both countries on a mutually convenient date and will come into force from the first day of the following month.

India and Mauritius enjoy excellent bilateral relations, sustained by historic cultural affinities, frequent high-level political interactions, development cooperation, defence and maritime partnership, and people-to-people linkages.

Mauritius is an important development partner of India. India had extended a ‘Special Economic Package’ of $353 million to Mauritius in 2016. The new Supreme Court building project is one of the five projects being implemented under this package and was jointly inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of Mauritius Pravind Jugnauth in July 2020.

In October 2019, Prime Minister Modi and his Mauritius counterpart had jointly inaugurated phase-I of the Metro Express Project and a 100-bed state-of-the-art ENT hospital project in Mauritius, also built under the special economic package.

Since 2005, India has been among the largest trading partners of Mauritius, and has been one of the largest exporters of goods and services to Mauritius. According to the International Trade Centre (ITC), in 2019, the main import partners of Mauritius were India (13.85 per cent), China (16.69 per cent), South Africa (8.07 per cent), and UAE (7.28 per cent).

Bilateral trade between India and Mauritius has registered a growth of 233 per cent from $206.76 million in Financial Year (FY) 2005-06 to USD 690.02 million in FY 2019-20. India’s exports to Mauritius surged 232 per cent from $199.43 million in FY 2005-06 to $662.13 million in FY 2019-20, while India’s imports from Mauritius increased 280 per cent from $7.33 million in 2005-06 to $27.89 million in FY 2019-20.