India and Mauritius will sign a comprehensive economic cooperation and partnership agreement (CECPA) “in the near future”, Prime Minister of Mauritius, Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, said in Mumbai on Friday.

“Given the differences of our economies, you should not see Mauritius for what it is but rather for what it can be. This perspective of the evolution of the road of Mauritius in the Indian ocean as a platform to penetrate the African Continent, has been guiding the discussions around the comprehensive economic cooperation and partnership agreement which will be signed in the near future by the two countries,” Jugnauth said at a business interaction organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry, FICCI and Assocham.

“It has taken two years since we revived the negotiations for CECPA. There is a very strong will on both sides and without divulging any confidential information, I can safely say that we are on the same wavelength, the CECPA will be concluded very shortly. Obviously, there are a few items which need further negotiations and even on that I’m pretty confident we will reach a conclusion soon,” he said.

India, according to Jugnauth, has been one of the main partners of Mauritius in terms of investment and trade for many years with imports from India touching around $1 billion a year and exports from Mauritius valued at $10 million. Foreign direct investment from India to Mauritius is close to 2 billion Mauritian rupees over the last five years.

“I believe the moment is ripe to take this special bond that we share to another level. This can be done through the medium of trade and investment as a relationship between equals,” Jugnauth, who is leading a high-level delegation from the island nation, said.

More investments

Mauritius was, until recently, a top source of foreign investments into India due to a tax treaty signed in 1982 that exempted a Mauritius resident from paying tax on capital gains arising from transfer of Indian shares. The treaty was amended in 2016 to check its misuse by round -tripping of funds by Indians via Mauritius.

Mauritius is crafting an Africa strategy to position the nation as a fulcrum for investors to tap opportunities that the Continent provides.

“We have engaged actively in recalibrating our economy to position Mauritius as an international financial centre for foreign investments into entire Africa. Mauritius will offer companies the anchorage to manage their African operations in a safe jurisdiction,” he said.

Wooing investors

Enumerating the steps taken by his government to make Mauritius more attractive, Jugnauth said corporate tax on income from export proceeds has been lowered to 3 per cent. An eight-year tax holiday is offered to certain specific hi-tech manufacturing such as pharmaceuticals and medical devices and air and sea freight rebates for exports.

“We have introduced a national e-licensing system to ensure seamless processing of permits and licences. This will be the single point of entry for application, payment and determination of business-related licences and permits,” he added.