Mauritius can be the gateway for Indian businesses to access opportunities in Africa by taking advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement, the island nation’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Alan Ganoo, has said.
“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 and SADC. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement, which came into force on 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,” Minister Ganoo said this week at an event organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
A comprehensive economic co-operation agreement (CECPA) between Mauritius and Idnia came into force on April 1, and it covers 310 Indian export items, including food and beverages, agricultural products, textiles, base metals, electronics, plastics, chemicals and wood products. 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.
Ambassador Santi Bai Hanoomanjee, Mauritius’ High Commissioner to India, said the CECPA also provided opportunities to Indian institutions to set up businesses in the education and healthcare sectors.
“Mauritius can act as the platform for Indian businesses to set up their production units and export their products to African markets,” she said.
Ambassador Hanoomanjee said Mauritius had an attractive taxation policy with a harmonised tax rate of 15 percent for corporate tax.
“There is no capital gains tax and dividends are tax exempt. Import of machinery, equipment and raw materials are exempt of customs duty and foreign investors can retain 100 percent 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 202, India exported goods worth US$662 million and imported commodities worth US$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,” Minister Ganoo said. – Mint