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India on Monday signed a landmark Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA) with Mauritius, the first if its kind with an African nation, making the strategically-located country a launch-pad for business expansion into the huge African continent.

“Today is indeed a special day in our special relationship,” External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said while jointly addressing the media with Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth here after calling on the Indian-origin leader.

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“India is privileged to have entered into a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA) with Mauritius. This agreement is India’s first-such agreement with an African country,” Jaishankar said.

He said it will provide a timely boost for the revival of the 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’.

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Prime Minister Jugnauth also noted that the CECPA is the first of its kind signed by India with an African country.

“This landmark agreement is far-reaching and will unleash new and expanded opportunities in trade in goods and services, investment, economic cooperation and technical assistance,” he said.

The CECPA will encourage Indian entrepreneurs to invest both in Mauritius and across the region, thus helping the ambition of the country to become a strategic regional economic hub and a centre of excellence, Jugnauth said in his remarks.

The CECPA provides preferential access to Mauritius for bulk of the trade and also for many aspirational items for the future into the Indian market of over a billion people. These include frozen fish, speciality sugar, biscuits, fresh fruits, juices, mineral water, soaps, bags, medical and surgical equipment, and apparel.

The current global imports of India on these products is well over USD 15 billion. “This is therefore a significant opportunity for Mauritius to benefit from access to the Indian market,” Jaishankar said.

He said 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 that in the trade in services sector, India has offered 95 sub-sectors from 11 broad services sectors.

“Services contribute, I believe, 76 per cent 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, especially in the Information and Communication Technologies sector as Indian companies could benefit by leveraging the bilingual prowess of Mauritius for investments in Francophone Africa, the minister said.

Jaishankar noted that during his meeting with Prime Minister Jugnauth, they held a lengthy review of the comprehensive and important bilateral relationship.

“Our discussions, I believe, were very productive and forward looking, and we really reviewed all aspects of the relationship as well as status of implementation of various projects,” Jaishankar added.

The CECPA coincides with the launch at the beginning of the year of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA), home to an estimated 1.3 billion consumers with a rising middle class component.

“Thus the CECPA and ACFTA provide together a high scope for fostering Indian investments in the continent via the Mauritius gateway particularly through leveraging India-Africa value chains in many areas, such as textiles, pharamaceuticals, agro industry and ICT,” Mauritius Prime Minister Jugnauth said.

As India seeks to step a vast and multi layered cooperation with the African continent with the next addition of India-Africa Forum, Mauritius aspires to play a greater role in this engagements as a gateway between India and Africa,” he added.

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