Mauritius is keen to foster strategic alliances and partnerships with the investor community of the UAE to penetrate the African markets, a senior minister of the Indian Ocean nation said.

Soodesh Callichurn, Minister of Commerce and Consumer Protection, who is heading a Mauritian delegation to the UAE, said the island nation is better positioned to serve as a gateway to the African continent for businesses and investors from the UAE. Thanks to a spate of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements with India, China, the US, the EU, the country can enable businesses across all sectors preferential access to around 70 per cent of the world market through the Mauritius Freeport, said Callichurn.

“We have conducive business environment, robust financial and legal framework as well as the myriad multilateral and bilateral agreements in place to offers investors and entrepreneurs exciting growth opportunities,” said Callichurn, who is also the minister of labour, human resource development, and training.

“I congratulate the Government of the UAE for having courageously stood up to their commitment to maintaining such a high standard at Expo2020 Dubai despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and more specifically the restriction of movement,” he told Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the Mauritius Freeport and Logistics Week, running under the banner of the Mauritius Pavilion at Expo 2020. Present at the event was Showkutally Soodhun, ambassador of Mauritius to the UAE & deputy commissioner-general for the Mauritius Pavilion, along with senior government officials.

The minister said the objective of the week is to showcase the advantages of the Mauritius Freeport as a reliable, trusted, and efficient logistics, distribution, and value addition platform linking the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Mauritius Freeport was ranked in the Annual Global Free Zones of the Year 2021 by the fDi intelligence magazine, a specialist division of the Financial Times, as the second-best Freezone in the world and the first in Africa, the minister pointed out.

Hemraj Ramnial, chairman of the Economic Development Board, said the Mauritius Freeport and Logistics Platform is positioned as an attractive value-added platform linking Asia-Africa and the Middle East. It is a complementary rather than a competing jurisdiction to the UAE, whereby strategic alliances and partnerships could be forged ahead to better serve the African continent and support Africa up the value chain.

“The expertise and capabilities of the UAE-based operators, along with the opportunities provided in risk mitigation and operational efficiency in the Mauritius freeport may just be the determining factors to drive the robust regional value chain,” he said.

Ramnial said Africa, which is home to 17 per cent of the world population, offers limitless opportunities for businesses to expand their reach. “The continent accounts for 30 per cent of the global minerals’ reserves and around 60 per cent of the world’s untapped arable land. Yet, Africa attracts less than 3.0 per cent of global FDI and contributes to less than 3.0 per cent of global trade. Intra Africa trade stands as low as 12 per cent as opposed to 60 per cent in Europe. Africa’s population currently stands at 1.2 billion and it is expected to double up to 2.4 billion by 2050. Over 60 per cent of the African demography is under the age of 25.”

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