CECPA: Cabinet clears trade pact with Mauritius

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February 18, 2021 1:30 AM

Similarly, Mauritius will get access to products, including frozen fish, speciality sugar, biscuits, fresh fruits, juices, mineral water, beer, alcoholic drinks, soaps, bags, medical and surgical equipment, and apparel.

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

The Cabinet on Wednesday approved a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA) with Mauritius, paving the way for the first trade pact with an African country.

The “limited” agreement will cover trade in both goods and services. India will have preferential access to the Mauritius market for 310 products, while Mauritius will get access to 615 products. New Delhi will also have access to about 115 sub-sectors across 11 broad services sectors, including software, financial services and telecommunications. It will also have provisions for the unrestricted movement of skilled professionals.

Bilateral trade between India and Mauritius grew 233% from $207 million in 2005-06 to $690 million in FY20. India’s exports to Mauritius jumped 232% from $199 million to $662 million during this period, while imports rose from just over $7 million to almost $28 million.

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

This will be the first trade pact since the Indian government’s launch of Aatmanirbhar initiative last year. It is also expected to set the stage for similar agreements with other African nations, where China already has a strong foothold.

The renewed thrust on trade talks after the Covid-19 disruptions reinforce India’s commitment towards greater integration with the global value chain, just as it maintains that its Aatmanirbhar programme is not inward-looking. Having pulled out of the China-dominated RCEP deal, India has been seeking to expedite trade talks with large and strategically important markets to forge “balanced” and fair agreements. It’s engaged in trade talks with the EU, the US and the UK, among others.

In goods trade, Indian exporters will get preferential treatment in food and beverages (80 tariff lines), farm products (25 lines), textiles and garments (27 lines), base metals and related articles (32 lines), electricals and electronics (13 lines), plastics and chemicals (20 lines) and wood and related articles (15 lines).

Similarly, Mauritius will get access to products, including frozen fish, specialty sugar, biscuits, fresh fruits, juices, mineral water, beer, alcoholic drinks, soaps, bags, medical and surgical equipment, and apparel.

Indian service providers will gain access to broad sectors, such as professional services, computer-related services, research & development, other business services, telecommunication, construction, distribution, education, environmental, financial, tourism & travel-related, recreational, yoga, audio-visual services, and transport services, the government said in a statement.

The agreement will have provisions about rules of origin, 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, according to an official statement.

With this, India is extending its usual special relations with Mauritius to the realm of trade. It had extended an economic package of $353 million to Mauritius in 2016. The new Supreme Court building in Mauritius is one of the five projects being implemented under this package. In October 2019, the prime ministers of both the countries jointly inaugurated the Phase -I of the Metro Express Project and a 100-bed state-of-the-art hospital in Mauritius. All these projects are being built under the economic package.

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