India recently signed a major trade and defense deal with Mauritius. The defense line of credit deal amounts to a total of $100 million. During External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s visit to the island nation, the two sides signed a free trade agreement (FTA) or CECPA (comprehensive economic cooperation and partnership agreement). It has been reported that it is India’s first such pact with any African country.
Mr. Jaishankar in his message stated , “Privileged to witness along with Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth the signing of Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement, India’s first such agreement with an African country. [This] will help focus on post pandemic economic recovery. Enable business expansion and greater investments,” .
Additionally during a joint press statement, S Jaishankar, said, “India is privileged to have entered into a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA) with Mauritius. It will provide a timely boost for the revival of our post-COVID-19 economies and also enable Indian investors to use Mauritius as a launch-pad for business expansion into continental Africa helping the prospect of Mauritius emerging as a ‘hub of Africa’.”
Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth also expressed his pleasure and optimism by stating ,”CECPA is first of its kind signed by India with an African country. This landmark agreement is far-reaching and will unleash new and expanded opportunities in trade, goods and services…CECPA will encourage Indian entrepreneurs to invest both in Mauritius and across the whole region.”
India and Mauritius’ $100 million Defense Line of Credit will facilitate Mauritius in the procurement of Indian defense equipment. This shows that Mauritius occupies a special place in the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘SAGAR’ (Security and Growth for All in the Region).
Under the agreement strategic defense equipment will be shared by India with Mauritius. Defense equipment namely Dornier aircraft and an advanced light helicopter will be given on lease to Mauritius on grant basis for two years.
It is to be noted that the defense agreement brings out India’s strategic defense presence in the region. This certainly also present itself as an example of how Mauritius defense stands fortified in the light of India.
During the visit, even foreign minister Jaishankar emphasized on the importance of the Indian Ocean Region and its maritime security. Thus this comes as a step to renew India’s strategic defense position in Indian ocean region.
Given china’s aggression in the region, Mauritian PM Jugnauth also highlighted the importance of maintaining peace and respecting the rule of law in the India-Pacific region. India is the only country in the region, which with its conscious efforts can counter such territorial aggression.
Jugnauth also made efforts to mention quad, a strategic partnership of nations to maintain peace, territorial integrity and freedom of navigation, of which India is an active member.
He stated “I welcome the renewed commitment of the Quad countries in upholding rules-based international order underpinned by respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty, rule of law, transparency, freedom of navigation in international water and peaceful resolution of disputes. Adherence to these principles is crucial,” .
It is also to be noted that under CECPA, India will get certain preferential trade treatment for some commodities like medicine, surgical equipment and textile products that will cater to market requirements in the region. India too will extend the trade preferential system to Mauritius, to quantify the deal 40,000 tons of export of sugar into India will get preferred access.