The Chief Executive TDAP, Mr. S. M. Muneer, met with the Chairman of the Mauritian Revenue Authority (MRA) Mr. SudramoLal at his office on the 24th of October 2016 and 0900h. The C.E TDAP was accompanied by the Director General TDAP (Americas & Asia) and the high powered businessmen delegation from Pakistan.
Welcoming the delegation and thanking the C.E TDAP, the Chairman MRA gave a detailed briefing to the delegates and informed them about the working and performance of the MRA and its efforts and contribution towards the revenue generation and collection for Mauritius.
Meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister:
The Chief Executive TDAP, Mr. S. M. Muneer, met with the Deputy Prime Minister Mr. ShowkallySoodhar at his office on the 24th of October at 1000h. The C.E TDAP was accompanied by the Director General TDAP (Americas & Asia) and the high powered businessmen delegation from Pakistan.
2. The C.E TDAP thanked the Deputy Prime Minister for taking the time out for welcoming and meeting the delegation despite his busy schedule. Briefing the Deputy Prime Minister, the CE TDAP informed that based on the successful visit of the President of Mauritius to Pakistan in April 2016, the delegation has come to Mauritius in order to strengthen the commercial and economic relationship between the two countries. The CE also stated that the delegation had so far met with the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce & Industry as well as the Islamic Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the delegation has had very successful B2B meetings with the respective importers in Mauritius. The CE stated that the delegation of Pakistan has come not only to sell, but also to buy from the Mauritius suppliers, in that sense it is a win win situation for business on both sides.
3. Welcoming the delegation from Pakistan, the Deputy Prime Minister briefed the delegation on the political system of Mauritius and stated the Government and the people of Mauritius, welcome trade and investment from Pakistan. He also stated that in these efforts, unfortunately, the Pakistani side has been lacking far behind the efforts made by the Indian and Chinese businesspersons. The delegation was informed that the Government of India had built up Information Technology (I.T) complex in Port Louis which has led to a mushrooming of growth in the IT sector services exports from Mauritius. Pakistan also needs to take a lead in similar efforts in Mauritius and maximize the benefit that can accrue to Pakistani investors through the various PTA’s that Mauritius has with countries like the US, E.U, Turkey and with COMESA &SADC. He advised the Pakistani delegation that they should also seek to have Joint Ventures initially so that a step by step approach is taken in confidence building in the businesses as well as the investment regime of Mauritius, which according the Deputy Prime Minister was amongst the best rated in Africa by the World Bank in its report.
4. During the course of discussions, there was a general agreement on both sides that the commercial relationship between the two countries needs to be strengthened further and the efforts undertaken by the Government of Mauritius as well as by the TDAP with its Pakistan Week in Mauritius, are steps in right direction and the momentum in this regard needs to be maintained with the same vigour.
5. The meeting ended with a vote of thanks by the CE to the Deputy Prime Minister for welcoming and briefing the delegation on the investment regime in Mauritius.
Meeting with the Foreign Minister and Foreign Secretary of Mauritius:
The Chief Executive TDAP, Mr. S. M. Muneer, met with the Foreign Minister Mr.SeetanahLutchmenaraidoo and the Foreign Secretary Mrs. U.C DwarkaCanabady at his office on the 24th of October at 1000h. The C.E TDAP was accompanied by the Director General TDAP (Americas & Asia) and the high powered businessmen delegation from Pakistan. The Foreign Minister and Foreign Secretary were accompanied by the Director for Bilateral I (Asia & Middle East) Directorate A.Y Lam Chiyo Lee, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mauritius.
2. Welcoming the delegation, the Foreign Minister stated that it was very good to see a high powered trade delegation from Pakistan as well as the Pakistan Week being held in Port Louis, as a follow-up of the visit of the President of the Republic of Mauritius to Pakistan and hoped that the trade and commercial relationship between the two countries would be further strengthened by such initiatives. The Foreign Secretary however noted that generally speaking, the FTA’s, PTA’s and other such related instruments (despite having massive potential for benefitting the business community and the overall population’s welfare) have mostly fallen well short of what they are supposed to achieve. He therefore reiterated that all such existing arrangements need to be leveraged properly so as to maximize the accruing benefit of such arrangements. It was therefore the need of the hour to identify the issues that have hamstrung the progress in this direction, why have these issues cropped up and how are they to be resolved.
3. The Chief Executive of the TDAP thanked the Foreign Minister and briefed him about the visit of the delegation of Pakistani businessmen to Mauritius and the meetings held so far with different stakeholders in the public and private sector. He also agreed with the observations of the Foreign Minister that the existing trade agreements/arrangements need to be appropriately worked upon with a proper focus so as to maximize their potential before any further discussions on enhancing the scope of ay PTA/FTA.
4. On the request of the CE TDAP, the Director General TDAP (Americas & Asia Div.) gave a background to the meeting of the current level of Pakistan-Mauritius trade. It was briefed that the overall level of bilateral trade is not commensurate with the actual potential, especially in view of the geostrategic position of Mauritius, as the gateway to South and Eastern parts of the African continent. It was also briefed that especially with the COMESA and SADC agreements in place and the AGOA Acts, the potential of bilateral as well as plurilateral trade was huge, but has not been tapped into. Agreeing with the perspective of the Foreign Secretary on the issue of the potential of the FTA’s etc. not being tapped, the DG TDAP stated that the Government of Pakistan, the Ministry of Commerce and the TDAP, are now seriously pursuing the policy of trade diversification and the visit of the high powered Pakistani businessmen was a step in that direction. It was suggested that in order to proactively progress the bilateral and plurilateral trade, with and through Mauritius to the African continent, it is essential to set up a core working group with representation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mauritius and Enterprise Mauritius on the one hand, and the Pakistan High Commission and the TDAP on the other side so that the issues which have hamstrung the maximization of potential of trade are identified, bottlenecks removed and trade and investment on both sides, increased.
5. The Charge D’Affairesi.a of Niger, Mr. K. K. AhsanWaggan, who was specially sent by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan to accompany and facilitate the delegation during their visit to Mauritius, thanked the Foreign Minister, the Foreign Secretary and their team for welcoming the delegation and expressed gratitude on behalf of the Government of Pakistan for their help and support for Pakistan at the bilateral and plurilateral fora. In order to further strengthen the same, the Charge D’Affairesi.a stated that the last Joint Working Group meeting between Pakistan and Mauritius was held in 2014 and therefore suggested that in order to energize the same, it should be held in 2016 or early 2017 and in Pakistan so as to proactively progress the issues. He also opined that these political consultations be held annually and a draft Memorandum of Understanding between the Foreign Offices of both Pakistan as well as Mauritius can be signed.
6. Agreeing with the proposal of the DG TDAP for forming a Core Working Group to identify bottlenecks and resolving them, the Foreign Minister stated that there is a dire need to have a fast track approach on both sides for the resolution of such issues and impediments. The Foreign Minister also opined that in view of the relationship of Mauritius with Africa, its membership of COMESA/SADC and its highest rating in Africa as the easiest place in Africa to do business with, Pakistan can leverage the benefits that accrue to Mauritius, through its Free Zones. Mauritius can also be used as a gateway for B2B procurements and tenders through the FTA that Pakistan has with Mauritius. The FTA can be further facilitated through the SPV’s (Special Purpose Vehicles) with financial and economic investment protection coverage so as to encourage the outreach of Pakistani companies in Africa, through Mauritius. It was briefed to the delegation that these SPV’s that are being set up by Mauritius Government, are supported as well as recognized by the IMF, World Bank and other global financial institutions. The Foreign Minister then gave the floor to the Secretary Foreign Affairs Mauritius.
7. The Secretary Foreign Affairs briefed the delegation that the Mauritius Government has based its relationships on ground realities, rather than words. She was of the opinion that the PTA that was signed between Pakistan and Mauritius has not been able to give the desired results and that there is a need to map and match the potential of bilateral trade on both sides. She stated that the Government of Mauritius was developing Special Economic Zones (SEZ’s) in 3 African countries and that a SPV Bank was also being set up in the region in order to support the companies that are interested in using these SPV’s and financial services in these SEZ’s. She also informed that an African Economic Plan (AEP) was being progressed and would probably be launched by next year for economic development of African continent and a meeting of the leaders of the African region, and partner countries interested in participating in the AEP would be planned with the launching of the AEP. She said that if Pakistan was interested in using these SPV’s or the SEZ’s or in trying to evaluate its partnership in the AEP, then Pakistan should evaluate and decide the way forward themselves.
8. The Minister Foreign Affairs reiterated the need to evaluate the existing trade and commercial relationships between Pakistan and Mauritius and assess the reasons behind the non-performance of the FTA in enhancing the trade between the two countries. He agreed with the proposal of the DG TDAP and stated that his office would be sending the nominations of around 2-3 focal persons who would liaise with both the Pakistan High Commission as well as the DG TDAP for the developing the way forward for enhancing the bilateral trade between the two countries.
9. The meeting ended with a note of appreciation by the CE TDAP to the Foreign Minister as well as the Foreign Secretary for meeting the delegation and apprising them of the issues and measures through which the trade and economic relationship between Pakistan and Mauritius can be maximized.