Broadening Economic Horizons Between Mauritius and China
The Economic Development Board, under the aegis of the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, in collaboration with the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Mauritius hosted the Mauritius – China Economic Cooperation Forum on Wednesday 7th December 2022 at the Hilton Mauritius Resort & Spa.
The event held in context of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Mauritius and the People’s Republic of China, was launched today by Dr. the Honourable Renganaden Padayachy, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development.
In his welcome address, His Excellency Mr. Zhu Liying the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Republic of Mauritius focused on five major essential aspects which have been instrumental in cementing economic and commercial cooperation between Mauritius and China.
Firstly, he expressed his satisfaction of the positive outlook of the Mauritius-China FTA to expand trade dimensions. He emphasized that one year after the entry into force of this agreement, the volume of bilateral trade has grown by 25.8% as compared to the previous year. He also added that Mauritian exports to China increased by 35.1%, while the overall export growth stands at 15.8%. As such, he underlined that the China-Mauritius Free Trade Agreement is a source of business opportunities and an engine of economic development for both countries.
Secondly, he focused on China’s commitment to raise the level of cooperation in infrastructure and highlighted the series of key infrastructure projects, such as the seaport, roads, airport, sewerage networks, and social housing projects will provide a new dynamism to economic cooperation between Mauritius and China. In this regard, he called on Chinese companies to transform their business models from EPC to PPP, to better adapt to the requirements of the Mauritian market.
Thirdly, the Ambassador spoke on the importance of strengthening cooperation in finance and investment, with the creation of an RMB (Renminbi) clearing center. This will promote the deepening of China-Mauritius and China-Africa economic and trade cooperation. It will also enhance the Mauritian jurisdiction as a regional business centre and an ideal hub for structuring investments to Africa. He also highlighted that the RMB clearing centre will stimulate two-way investment. Jinfei will henceforth welcome more companies in trade, finance, high-tech and logistics.
Fourth, he expressed the determination of China to create sustainable projects. As far as the green economy is concerned, he stated that Mauritius and China should work together on projects of technological innovation, renewable energies and electric vehicles. As for the blue economy, the focus will be on port construction, deep-sea fishing, aqua-culture, and scientific research. As far as the digital economy is concerned, more efforts will be geared towards 5G, data centers and smart cities.
And finally, he underlined the need to further develop tourism. The Ambassador stated that Mauritius is still a preferred destination for Chinese tourists. In a post covid era, more efforts should be made to study this specific market, with a view to satisfy the demand of Chinese visitors. He also suggested that a dedicated and well-targeted advertising campaign should be deployed.
Delivering the keynote address, Dr. the Honourable Renganaden Padayachy, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development underlined that this forum focused on strengthening economic cooperation between Mauritius and China. It further demonstrates the shared willingness of both countries to enhance the existing profound multifaceted ties.
The Minister of Finance also recalled that the two important presidential visits of President Xi Jinping in 2018 and that of former President Hu Jintao in 2009 and highlighted that since the independence in 1968, all Prime Ministers of Mauritius have visited China on official visits. He reiterated that this commitment at the highest level of both Governments, reflects the importance that is mutually attributed to this partnership. He also indicated the instrumental role played by China in the modernization and economic diversification of Mauritius.
In this perspective, he enumerated the series of major infrastructure projects such as the International Airport, the Côte d’Or Sports Complex, the Bagatelle Dam and the Bruno Cheong Hospital which have been developed with the support of the Chinese Government.
The Minister of Finance also underlined concrete results attained following the entry into force of the FTA between Mauritius and China on 1st January 2021 citing the incremental export of apparel and food products by 54% in 2021 as compared to 2020.
He concluded that during these uncertain times, it is important to further strengthen economic cooperation and trade with trusted allies with a view to bolster development for progress and prosperity.
The official opening session was followed by three highly interactive and insightful presentations on Policy interpretation of Contracting projects by the Public Procurement Office, Overseas Labour Introduction and Employment by the Ministry of Labour, Human Resource Development and Training and Digital Transformation and Information Security by EDB as well as a special intervention by Mr. Wang Xusheng, Deputy CEO, Huawei Mauritius.
The event concluded with a Panel Discussion on the upcoming RMB Clearing Centre featuring panelists from the Bank of China, Bank of Mauritius and the Mauritius Bankers Association on how a clearing center for the Chinese currency, the renminbi (rmb), or the yuan, in Mauritius, will facilitate and enhance trade transactions between Africa and China, with Mauritius playing a pivotal role.