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Mauritius boosts SA trade

Oct 02 2016 06:45
Godfrey Mutizwa

Mauritius is beefing up its South African presence as part of a broad drive to boost trade and investment links with sub-Saharan African countries.

Ken Poonoosamy, the managing director of the Mauritius Board of Investment, said that his agency would appoint an economic counsellor for its new Johannesburg office by the end of this month with a mandate to scout for South African investment in the property, financial services, manufacturing, and information and communications technology sectors.

“South Africa is a key market for us,” Poonoosamy told City Press in Port Louis, Mauritius, during the Africa Partnership Conference last week.

“We want to expand trade links between the two countries. We want to make it more seamless for investors.”

Trade between the two countries has advanced in the past decade, with South African exports more than doubling to R3.7 billion, while Mauritian exports surged almost tenfold to R2.2 billion, according to the department of trade and industry.

Increasingly, the trade has been dominated by value-added exports such as machinery and electrical equipment.

The staffing of the office follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding by the two countries’ chambers of commerce at the beginning of last month, which seeks to expand trade and investment ties through exhibitions and international trade fairs.

Sadick Jaffer, the department of trade and industry’s chief director for investment promotion, said South Africa was as keen as Mauritius was to increase trade links, as evidenced by discussions at the countries’ first joint working committee, held at the same time as the conference.

In particular, the department of trade and industry was pushing for the involvement of black businesses as part of its plan to increase the number of black industrialists.

“We will encourage black business to establish and expand their footprint in the continent,” Jaffer said during the conference, which was hosted by the Mauritius Board of Investment and the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies.

“Mauritius is a good partner for us,” he said.

Mauritius, Africa’s freest economy according to the World Bank, is on a drive to boost economic ties with Africa by positioning itself as a gateway between the continent, and Asia and the Middle East.

The country is also separately working with individual African countries, including Ghana, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Uganda, Morocco, Mozambique, Zambia and Madagascar, to help them develop special economic zones.

Pravind Jugnauth, Mauritius’ finance and economic development minister, this week presented the plan to investors and investment promotion agencies at the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies conference, which was attended by 19 investment promotion agencies and more than 150 investors from around the world.

“We stand to learn from our neighbours in Africa. We are also in a position to share with them best practices,” said Jugnauth.

The conference also discussed investment opportunities in Africa’s power sector, where more than 600 million people have no access to electricity.

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