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Sunday, March 3, 2024

UAE & Mauritius Agree to expand Economic Ties

 

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Mauritius have successfully concluded negotiations on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), marking a significant milestone as the UAE’s first such agreement with an African nation. The speedy conclusion of talks, just four months after the initial round, was affirmed by a joint statement signed in Mauritius by Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Trade, and Maneesh Gobin, Mauritius’ Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration, and International Trade.

With a foundation of nearly five decades of diplomatic relations and recent initiatives like the opening of the Mauritius Economic Development Board’s office in Dubai, the CEPA encompasses various aspects, including Trade in Goods and Services and Investment Facilitation. Once operational, the agreement is poised to bolster non-oil bilateral trade, which reached US$63.1 million in the first half of 2023. Key sectors for potential growth include chemicals, metals, and petroleum products.

Mauritius, boasting one of Africa’s most promising economies, achieved an impressive 8.5 percent GDP growth in 2022, the highest in 35 years. The services sector, constituting 67 percent of Mauritius’ GDP, presents significant opportunities for UAE businesses specializing in telecommunications, computer services, travel, transport, and financial services, aiming to expand into the African region. The CEPA, equipped with criteria for targeted investment facilitation, is expected to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) into fintech, healthcare, and tourism.

Before the official signing, Minister Al Zeyoudi engaged in discussions with key Mauritian figures, including Hemraj Ramnial, Chairman of the Mauritius Economic Development Board, Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, and Deputy Prime Minister Louis Steven Obeegado. Al Zeyoudi expressed satisfaction with the strategic partnership, emphasizing Mauritius’ importance in the UAE’s CEPA program and its commitment to open, rules-based trade.

Minister Gobin of Mauritius highlighted the anticipated positive impact of the CEPA on the business climate, expecting it to enhance trade in goods and services while facilitating investment flows. As the first CEPA between the UAE and an African country, the agreement is poised to play a pivotal role in establishing joint ventures, facilitating the movement of professionals, and contributing to both countries’ participation in regional value chains.

The UAE’s CEPA program is a crucial component of the nation’s growth strategy, aiming for AED4 trillion (US$1.8 trillion) in total trade value by 2031 and doubling the size of the economy by 2030. The program, which has already seen signed agreements across the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America, covers nearly a quarter of the world’s population. The UAE-Mauritius CEPA will come into effect after successful ratification by both parties.

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