WASHINGTON – Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Karan Bhatia and Mauritian Foreign Affairs, International Trade, and Cooperation Minister Madan Murlidhar Dulloo signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) today aimed at strengthening and expanding trade ties between the United States and Mauritius. The TIFA will provide a formal mechanism to address bilateral trade issues and will help enhance trade and investment relations between the United States and Mauritius.
"Mauritius’ experience demonstrates how trade and investment can fuel economic growth and development," Ambassador Bhatia said. "The Government of Mauritius has an impressive track record on democracy, economic growth, openness to foreign direct investment, economic diversification, and the expansion of trade."
Ambassador Bhatia continued, "The TIFA will provide an opportunity for our governments to work together to expand trade between our two countries and to work more closely on a broad range of trade-related issues, including moving the World Trade Organization Doha Development Round forward and on signing the African Growth and Opportunity Act."
Minister Dulloo added that, "The signature of the TIFA illustrates the fact that both our countries want to build upon our existing political and economic ties in order to increase trade and investment." The Minister invited American enterprises to consider Mauritius as an investment destination.
The TIFA provides a mechanism for a more comprehensive trade and investment dialogue in which the two countries can explore common objectives and review possibilities for improving trade relations between the United States and Mauritius Under the TIFA, a United States-Mauritius Trade and Investment Council will be formed to address a wide range of subjects, including trade promotion and development, export diversification, trade capacity building, intellectual property, labor, investment, and environmental issues. The Council will establish an ongoing dialogue that will help increase commercial and investment opportunities by identifying and working to remove impediments to trade and investment flows between the United States and Mauritius.
Mauritius is a well-established, multiparty democracy that has a market-based economy with a strong and dynamic private sector. Since achieving independence in 1968, Mauritius has developed from a low-income, agriculturally based economy to a middle-income diversified economy with growing industrial, financial, and tourist sectors. For most of this period, annual growth has been in the order of 5-6 percent. This growth has helped support more equitable income distribution, decreased poverty, and a much-improved infrastructure. The government’s development strategy has focused on encouraging trade, economic reforms, and facilitating a strong financial, telecommunications, and services sector.
Total trade between the United States and Mauritius was valued at $252.7 million in 2005. Significant Mauritian exports include textiles and apparel, sugar, processed diamonds, jewelry, canned and frozen fish, and eyewear. An important positive trend is Mauritius’ efforts to diversify its exports to the United States. For example, Mauritius is growing as an exporter of worked diamonds, sunglasses and eyewear. Mauritius has also been able to successfully attract significant investment in the services sector, particularly call centers and information communications technology. Mauritius has attracted more than 9,000 offshore entities with investment in the banking sector alone reaching over $1 billion in 2005.
Mauritius, with its large textile sector, is a major beneficiary of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). Exports from Mauritius under AGOA and the Generalized System of Preferences were valued at $152.6 million in 2005, accounting for 69 percent of its total exports to the United States. AGOA has sparked significant investment in Mauritius, and Mauritian investors have made major AGOA-related investments throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
The United States has TIFAs with several other important trading partners. In sub-Saharan Africa, the United States has concluded TIFAs with Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU/UEMOA).