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All Africa | 15 August 2018
Mauritius - China FTA - Third round of negotiations underway
The three-day third round of negotiations on the Mauritius-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) opened yesterday at the Hilton Hotel in Flic en Flac. The FTA aims at further expanding bilateral trade and investment exchanges between Mauritius and the People’s Republic of China.
The Mauritian delegation is being led by Dr Sunil Boodhoo, Director, International Trade Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade. The twelve-member Chinese delegation is headed by the Deputy Director General, Ministry of Commerce, Mr Hu Yingzhi.
In his opening statement, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Mr Seetanah Lutchmeenaraidoo, pointed out that the substance of the FTA should be that of a framework agreement which shows the way forward and conveys that both countries mean business. It should add the block and structure to make Mauritius and China an example of friendship, common interest and win-win situations to the rest world, he emphasised.
The FTA, the Minister pointed out, will in fact materialise and give substance to a strong friendship which has existed for so long between our two countries. China-Mauritius represent a beautiful story of friendship based on the principle of working together in the interest of each other, he said.
Speaking about Africa-China cooperation, Mr Lutchmeenaraidoo highlighted that it is necessary to find a solution which is related to the finalisation of two agreements namely: the first FTA which China is currently negotiating with an African country that is Mauritius; and, the Road and Belt initiative. The latter initiative implies that China wants to play more and more a positive and substantial role when it comes to the development of the whole planet, he stated.
The Minister also spoke how Mauritius although small in land size can act as a transmission belt and connecting link between the philosophy of China and the vision of Africa. This is where we are today, a new world and planet which is developing and where we are moving away from the West to the East and where the East wants to be present in world affairs, he said. It is on this basis that we are working collaboratively on these two initiatives, he remarked.
For his part, the Head of the Chinese delegation, Mr Hu Yingzhi, observed that the negotiations on the FTA have already reached an advanced stage within a short span of time. In addition, he expressed hope that the establishment at an earlier date of a Free Trade Area between both countries will help in further strengthening our long-lasting friendship. The FTA is also of great significance in ensuring the promotion of Africa’s economic, trade and investment cooperation with China, he stated.
Mr Hu recalled the recent friendship visit effected by Chinese President Xi Jinping two weeks earlier to Mauritius. This visit has not only brought new impetus to Mauritius-China friendly ties but has further triggered Chinese people’s interest towards Mauritius, he added.
Moreover, Mr Hu observed that President Xi and the Mauritian Prime Minister, Mr Jugnauth, acknowledged the progress made so far with regards to the FTA’s negotiations and the two leaders expressed hope that both the Chinese and Mauritian delegations will work closely with accelerated efforts to advance the negotiations with the aim to achieving a comprehensive high level and mutually beneficial FTA in the near future.
The FTA is expected to be finalised by the end of August this year. It will be signed in Beijing in September 2018 during the Forum on China Africa Cooperation Beijing Summit in the presence of Prime Minister Jugnauth and Chinese President Xi.
The first round of negotiations on the Mauritius-China Free Trade Agreement kicked off in April 2018 while the second round was held in June.