In the morning of Wednesday 9 January, Minister Sharma had a meeting with Dr. Arvin Boolell, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, followed by a call on Dr. Ahmed Rashid Beebeejaun, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy and Public Utilities.
A working session took place during lunchtime with his Mauritian counterpart, Mr. Sayed-Hossen, on the same day. The balance of trade between the two countries is currently very much in favour of India in terms of exports. This will need to be readjusted, according to both parties. Mauritius is a net exporter of sugar and textiles. However, due to lack of natural resources, Mauritius is dependent on imports of fuels to satisfy energy needs. Mauritius main trading partner is France with 17% of exports and 9% of imports.
Indian Minister Anand Sharma thereafter had a meeting with the Prime Minister, Dr. Navinchandra Ramgoolam, during which he spoke of the need for improving and diversifying trade and investment ties between the two countries. He then had a call on Mr. Xavier Luc Duval, Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Economic Development.
On the evening of 9 January, a dinner was hosted at the Maritim Hotel, Balaclava by the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Consumer Protection in honour of Mr Anand Sharma. This morning, an Interactive Business Lunch was organised by the Board of Investment, Enterprise Mauritius, and the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce & Industry, at the Angsana Hotel, Turtle Bay, Balaclava.
During his visit and his interactions, Minister Anand Sharma highlighted the need for making the Mauritius India Business Council a strong institutional mechanism to boost up trade and investment ties by identifying priority sectors. Such sectors can be tourism, infrastructure, manufacturing and light engineering, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, health and life sciences, Information and Communications Technology and textiles. In this regard, a Joint Working Group on trade and investment will meet before April 2013 to work out the modalities for broadening and deepening the economic engagement between the two countries.
Moreover, Minister Sharma assured Mauritius of the full support from India for the enhancement of the local textiles sector. The three draft Memoranda of Understanding in the textiles sector proposed by the Government of Mauritius involving cooperation of the Northern India Textile Research Associaion and the Apparel Promotion Council of India with the Mauritian institutions will thus be finalised soon. Mr. Sharma further stated that a delegation from India in the textiles sector would visit Mauritius shortly to establish institutional linkages.
Furthermore, the Commerce, Industry and Textiles Minister also informed the Government of Mauritius about India's National Manufacturing Policy and the establishment of National Investment and Manufacturing Zones as standalone integrated industrial townships for increasing the share of manufacturing in India's GDP from the current level of 16% to 26% in a decade while creating 100 million jobs in the process.
India and Mauritius enjoy strong trade and cultural relations since diplomatic ties were established in 1948. Today, India is one of the most important economic partners of Mauritius, being the main supplier of petroleum products. Major Indian flagships operating in Mauritius are LIC, Bank of Baroda, Indian Oil, India Handloom House, Ajanta Pharma, Infosys, New India Assurance, Bharat Telecom, MTML and Global Board of Trade.