Key trade deal brings UAE, Mauritius closer together
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Key trade deal brings UAE, Mauritius closer together

Key trade deal brings UAE, Mauritius closer together

The UAE and Mauritius, in first-of-their-kind negotiations, are set to boost each other’s economies in years to come with key trade deals in the pipeline

Gareth van Zyl

Fast-growing island nation Mauritius and the UAE have inked an economic agreement that looks set to boost each of these countries’ economies in the years to come.

Marking what has been dubbed as the first-ever agreement of its kind between an African nation and the UAE, the two countries have successfully concluded talks on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).

The CEPA, set to be formally signed at a later date, aims to contribute a substantial 1 per cent to the Mauritian economy by 2031 and simultaneously enhance the UAE’s GDP by 1.2 per cent over the same period, according to statements attributed to Minister Al Zeyoudi.

The formal announcement was made in a joint statement signed in Mauritius by Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, and Maneesh Gobin, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration, and International Trade of Mauritius.

The negotiations concluded merely four months after the initial round of talks. The CEPA will cover various aspects, including trade in goods and services and investment facilitation. Its implementation is expected to accelerate non-oil bilateral trade, with particular focus on sectors such as chemicals, metals, and petroleum products, where opportunities have already been identified.

The Mauritius economy, known for its promising prospects, achieved 8.5 per cent GDP growth in 2022, marking the fastest growth in 35 years. The services sector, constituting 67 per cent of Mauritania’s GDP, presents strong prospects for UAE businesses, especially in telecommunications, computer and information services, travel, transport, and financial services. The CEPA also outlines criteria for targeted investment, anticipated to drive foreign direct investment (FDI) into sectors like fintech, healthcare, and tourism.

Prior to the joint statement 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. These meetings explored the myriad opportunities arising from the agreement, emphasizing the potential for increased trade and investment between the two nations.

Minister Al Zeyoudi expressed his satisfaction with the outcome, highlighting Mauritius as a strategic partner with a growth-oriented economic vision. He emphasized the significant economic benefits of the CEPA, projecting positive impacts on trade flows, strategic investments, private-sector collaboration, academic partnerships, and support for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Mauritian Minister Maneesh Gobin echoed these sentiments, foreseeing improved business climates and the removal of trade impediments through the CEPA. He emphasized the historic nature of the agreement as the first CEPA between the UAE and an African country, anticipating its pivotal role in establishing joint ventures, facilitating the movement of professionals, and contributing to both nations’ participation in regional value chains.

The UAE-Mauritius CEPA aligns with the UAE’s broader growth strategy, targeting Dhs4 trillion ($1.8 trillion) in total trade value by 2031 and aiming to double the size of the economy by 2030. The agreement adds to the list of CEPA deals signed by the UAE across the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America, covering nearly a quarter of the world’s population. The agreement will enter into force following the successful ratification process by both sides.

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