Trade and investment relations between South Africa and Mauritius were strengthened on Thursday with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on economic cooperation between the two South African Development Community (SADC) countries.
The signing ceremony, which was conducted in Cape Town, was led by South African Minister of Trade and Industry, Mandisi Mpahlwa, and the Mauritian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Dr Arvin Boolell.
Trade and investment relations had been growing between the two countries over the last few years but it was anticipated that the MoU would help to cement and strengthen that relationship.
Mauritius was one of South Africa’s largest trading partners with exports to the island amounting to R2,4-billion in 2007.
However, Mpahlwa told delegates that a significant trade imbalance existed between the two countries as the value of imports from Mauritius only amounted to R437-million in 2007, which was up from R124-million in 2003.
South Africa predominantly exported mineral commodities, machinery, prepared foodstuffs, and chemical-based products to Mauritius, while imports focused on textiles, clothing and rubber.
Mpahlwa said that the main objective of the MoU was to encourage mutual economic growth, promote infrastructure development, and facilitate capacity building among the two nations.
The MoU was also indicative of the fact that the South African Government was working ever closer with SADC members to promote economic development on the African continent, said Mpahlwa.
Although intra-regional trade between the 14 SADC countries was steadily growing, Mpahlwa said that a trade balance existed in favour of South Africa.
However, to promote further economic development in the rest of the SADC region, balanced trade between all countries was a prerequisite.
Mauritius' Boolell said that the meeting between the two government representatives had been very fruitful.
He stated that his country had exceptional relations with South Africa and that it had always been responsive to the needs of Mauritius in terms of technical assistance and capacity building.
Bollel continued that the strengthening of economic ties between the two countries was especially important in the current international financial crisis.
Owing to the global financial crisis, there was a concern that the “ugly head of protectionism”, in the countries hardest hit by the credit crunch, may start to raise its head, he stated.
Thus, on the back of fears that trade with the western world could start to decrease with the imposition of protectionist tariffs, the MoU on economic cooperation was essential to ensure continued trade and investment in South Africa and Mauritius.
Boolell continued that the Mauritian government had made it easier for South African companies to invest in the country over the last few years, especially in emerging sectors such as property development.
The private sector remained the main engine of growth in Mauritius, and Boolell concluded that his government was contemplating introducing additional incentives to encourage further investment in the country.
Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter
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