A Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between The Government of the Republic of Mauritius and The Government of the People’s Republic of China was signed in October 2019 in Beijing, went into effect on Friday 01 January 2021, marking the first FTA between China and a country in Africa.
The Agreement comes after several years of negotiations, as Mauritius aims to position itself as the gateway between Africa and Asia-Pacific. The FTA comprises of four main components which pertain to trade in goods, trade in services, investment and economic cooperation.
Mauritius has had relations with China from as early as its independence in 1968 when it immediately subscribed to the ‘One China’ policy. Long-standing friendly relations between Beijing and Port Louis carried on in 1972, and the two countries have enjoyed strong economic and cultural ties since then – primarily in the form of Chinese investment into infrastructure projects such as the Bagatelle Dam, and the establishment of China’s first cultural centre abroad, namely the China Cultural Center (CCC) in Mauritius which was open to the public on July 11, 1988.
“With regard to trade in goods, upon entry into force of the Mauritius-China FTA, Mauritius would benefit from immediate duty free access on the Chinese market on some 7,504 tariff lines. Tariffs on an additional 723 tariff lines will be phased out over a 5 to 7-year period starting on 01 January 2021. In addition, a Tariff Rate Quota for 50,000 tonnes of sugar will be implemented on a progressive basis over a period of 8 years with an initial quantity of 15,000 tonnes.” – EDB Mauritius
“With respect to trade in services, both parties have agreed to remove restrictions in more than 100 service sectors. These include Financial services, Telecommunications, Information and Communications Technology, Professional services, Construction and Health services.” – EDB Mauritius
The Mauritius-China Free Trade Agreement is China’s first FTA with an African country, which could prove to be a model for future negotiations with the continent. China has been increasing its footprint in Africa, becoming one of the most influential players in the continent since the start of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2000. It will provide more solid institutional guarantee for deepening economic and trade relations between the two countries which indeed goes in line with China’s Maritime Silk Road, the maritime component of its Belt and Road Initiative. aiming to connect and develop infrastructure connecting East Africa, Asia, and the Indian Ocean.