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High Commissioner urges business community to have duty free access to entire Africa via Mauritius

High Commissioner of Mauritius

DNA

KARACHI: High Commissioner of Mauritius Rasidally Soobadar has urged the business community of Karachi to use Mauritius, which is ranked at 13th position in ease of doing business index, as a hub or gateway to access to 54 countries in the African Market.

“The business community of Karachi can easily invest and set up their production units in Mauritius and can also enjoy the liberty of bringing their own labor force which is allowed in Mauritius and they can have duty free and quota free access to 54 countries in Africa under Continental Free Trade Agreement (FTA)”, he added while speaking at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

Deputy High Commissioner Adam Koodoruth, Honorary Consul General of Mauritius in Karachi Sohail Yaseen Suleman, President KCCI Iftikhar Ahmed Sheikh, Senior Vice President Altaf A. Ghaffar, Vice President Tanveer Ahmed Barry, Former Presidents Majyd Aziz and Junaid Esmail Makda, Chairman KCCI’s Subcommittee for Diplomatic Missions & Trade Delegations Farooq Afzal and KCCI Managing Committee Members also attended the meeting.

Mauritian High Commissioner pointed out that accessing 54 countries in Africa via Mauritius was very important as the African continent’s population by 2040, as per World Bank reports, will overtake the overall population of India and China to reach more than 4 billion people. “In terms of land, mineral resources, agriculture, doing business and in terms of investment, Africa is the last frontier offering enormous opportunities.”

He said that Mauritius provides strict rule of law, arbitration and good governance whereas it was one of the most peaceful countries in the world which is ranked on 20th position in terms of peace in the list of 200 most peaceful countries in the world. “The economy of Mauritius is doing very well and we have no restriction over foreign exchange. Your investment is safe and you can transfer your money anytime.”

He said that Mauritius holds very special ties with around five to six countries and Pakistan was one of them. “When we opened our mission in Pakistan in 1970, Mauritius had just 8 missions around the world and Pakistan was one of them.”

He informed that Mauritius, which is the best governed country in Africa, also gives its passports to those Pakistanis who fulfill certain criteria. “Anyone bringing in an investment of US$350,000 by either buying a house or a villa or investing in any sector, he and his family will be eligible for acquiring Mauritian passport.”, he added.

He noted that 40 percent of Africa was still unelectrified which was a very good opportunity for Pakistani investors who can look into the possibility of setting up solar farms in Africa.

In response to President KCCI’s suggestion for exploring opportunities in the tourism sector, he said that although Mauritius population was 1.2 million yet it receives 2 million tourists every year because the island has built a very beautiful hospitality sector. “We have built a harbor for cruise ships only and we expect 50 cruise ships arriving at this harbor per year”, he added.

Earlier, President KCCI Iftikhar Ahmed Sheikh, while welcoming the Mauritian High Commissioner, pointed that despite considerable trade potential, Pakistan’s exports to Mauritius remained at a modest level of approximately $16 million during Jul-Mar FY24, hence, it was really very crucial to make extraordinary efforts to improve meager trade between the two countries. “Pakistan’s exports to the African market stood at $1.31 billion in FY23, representing only 4.72 percent of Pakistan’s total exports which was significantly low, considering Africa’s immense abundant energy and natural resources, economic potential & its population comprising approximately one-fifth of the global population. Therefore, Pakistan’s Look Africa policy can help accelerate trade and pursue economic integration”, he added.

He also stressed the need to reduce trade barriers, simplify customs procedures, enhance ease of doing business, and facilitate SMEs which were essential to boost trade between Pakistan and Mauritius.  

Iftikhar Sheikh was of the opinion that Mauritius can serve as a gateway for Pakistan to enter into Southern and Eastern Africa. Pakistan needs to reintroduce its textile and apparel sector, focus on value addition, create deep business linkages, and explore opportunities to boost exports in this region.

“Tourism is one of the key pillars of the Mauritian economy and derives its export earnings for the country.  Pakistan’s tourism sector also holds tremendous potential, providing numerous attractions for local and international visitors. Both countries can learn from each other’s experiences and collaborate to promote technology-driven tourism enterprises and encourage community participation in tourism development between the two countries”, he suggested.

He informed that Pakistan has enormous land suitable for agriculture & livestock, and diverse ecological zones offer immense incentives for corporate farming, impressive yields and investment opportunities under SIFC. Both nations can mutually benefit by sharing agricultural expertise and pursuing corporate farming ventures to boost agro-food exports to enhance trade volume, he added.

He opined that liberalizing visa rules can make travelling easier, encourage cultural exchange, and strengthen connections between people and businesses in both countries.






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