India-Mauritius CECPA: Unlocking The Economic Potential Through FTA

This agreement is expected to boost mutual trade and commerce between both countries.

India and Mauritius have signed Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA) on 22nd February 2021. This is a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries, which is first of its kind with any African nation. This will grant preferential access to large number of traded products from both sides. This landmark agreement is expected to further boost trade between India and Mauritius and enhance economic cooperation between the two economies.

A free trade agreement is a binding agreement between two or more countries in which contracting members agree to remove the tariff and non-tariff barriers (NTBs) among themselves. However, each contracting member is free to set its separate trade restrictions against non-member countries. India has already signed FTAs with many countries including Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Malaysia. Notwithstanding, India is a part of two regional free trade agreements - SAFTA and with ASEAN. Most of these FTAs are limited in scope and covers only trade in goods except with Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia. However, India-Mauritius CECPA is broad and covers wide array of areas including trade in goods, trade in services, NTMS (Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures), trade facilitation, investment, technical regulations, custom procedures, rules of origin, dispute settlement, trade remedies etc. This is a significant agreement that is expected to provide gateway for Indian exporters and investors to expand business and commerce with African continent. The CECPA would be beneficial for both the countries. Mauritius will get access to Indian markets while India will be able to get not only access to Mauritian market but also access to other African countries in future.

Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth while highlighting the significance of CECPA proclaimed, “Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement is the first of its kind signed by India with an African country. This landmark agreement is far reaching and should unleash new and expanded opportunities in trade, in goods and services, investment, economic cooperation and technical assistance. The CECPA will encourage Indian entrepreneurs to invest both in Mauritius and across the whole region, thus, consolidating our ambition of making Mauritius strategic regional economic hub and centre of excellence. As, India seeks to step her vast and multilayered cooperation with the African continent to the next addition of the India Africa forum, Mauritius aspires to play a greater role in these engagements as a gateway between India and Africa”. Subsequently, India Mauritius CECPA can be seen as a broader Africa policy from Indian perspective.

CECPA will be a historical turning point for both the countries since it will unlock the doors for preferential market access for 615 tariff lines for Mauritius and 310 tariff lines for India. It is expected that Mauritius will gain in terms of preferential tariff concessions on products like biscuits, frozen fish, juices, speciality sugar, mineral water, soaps, fresh fruits, beer and other alcoholic beverages, and medical equipments etc. Mauritius will also be granted access to Indian markets for the exports of 40 thousand tonne of sugar, 1.5 million litre of rum, 2 million litre of beer and 7.5 million pieces of apparel per annum. India has a huge market and a potential destination for these products in which Mauritius enjoys global excellence and reputation.

One of the significant features of the CECPA is the inclusion of services trade. Total 11 broad categories of services with more than 115 sub-categories for Indian service providers have been negotiated under CECPA that include business services, educational services, communication, construction, environmental services, distributional services, financial, health related and social services, recreational, cultural & sporting services, transport services and travel & tourism services. India on the other side has offered around 95 sub-sectors of the services.

CECPA is strategically significant that will escalate the historical economic ties and sustain linkages between India and Mauritius. This agreement is expected to boost mutual trade and commerce between both the countries. It will also pave the ways and open avenues for further economic cooperation between India and Mauritius. Notwithstanding, India will also be benefitted since the CECPA is expected to provide a model for further negotiations of free trade agreements with other African countries. This landmark agreement is mutually beneficial and will unlock the bilateral potential for both the countries.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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