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External Affairs Minister's Keynote Address at Business Meet in Port Louis, Mauritius (November 03, 2014)

November 03, 2014

His Excellency Dr. Arvin Boolell, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade

His Excellency Cader Sayed-Hossen, Minister of Industry, Commerce and Consumer Protection

His Excellency Jangbahadoorsing Seetaram, Minister of Business, Enterprise and Cooperatives,

Representatives of various industry and commerce groups of Mauritius,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to be here this morning at this Business Meet organised by the Board of Investment, the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and other important agencies of trade, investment and business in Mauritius.

At the outset, let me extend warm congratulations to you all on the 180th anniversary of the Aapravasi Diwas. I had the privilege yesterday of participating in an extremely moving and emotional ceremony commemorating this Day at the Aapravasi Ghat site.

Speaking with you today at the commercial and economic hub of Cyber City, it occurs to me that there is no better manifestation of the miraculous journey of the Mauritian nation than the journey from the steps of the Aapravasi Ghat to the gleaming towers of the Cyber City. This has been a truly remarkable story of the struggle, perseverance and indomitable spirit of your forefathers, who overcame harsh obstacles to build the modern Mauritian nation – a nation of opportunities, prosperity and freedom.

Friends, from the early days of your national movement for social and political emancipation, to laying the foundation of this very Cyber City, India has been on your side. We take great pride in having been a steadfast partner of Mauritius in every step of this journey. And I want to unequivocally reassure you that the new government of India is committed to remain the partner of choice for Mauritius in future also.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

During my short time here, I have been most impressed by your achievements, your continued commitment to democratic ideals and social harmony, your tenacity in the face of a difficult international economic climate, and especially your commitment to the social contract that ensures welfare and security to the less fortunate in society. Your leadership deserves praise for taking forward the process of growth and development in these difficult times.

The unique relations between India and Mauritius are based on our shared historical and cultural heritage. Our Government accords immense importance to these privileged ties, which have been taken forward in recent years with regular interaction at the highest levels. This was best demonstrated by the participation of Prime Minister Dr. Ramgoolam in the swearing-in ceremony of the new Government of India earlier this year.

Today, India and Mauritius have put in place a comprehensive set of bilateral agreements and are cooperating in an increasingly diverse range of economic activities. India is proud to be the largest trading partner of Mauritius. Mauritius has been one of the largest participants in our capacity building programmes, including our flagship Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation programme (ITEC).

Thousands of Mauritians have pursued higher education in India through the ICCR scholarships and other programmes. Bilateral cooperation between India and Mauritius in the economic sphere has also resulted in the building of iconic structures and institutions in Mauritius, including Swami Vivekananda International Convention Centre and Cyber City.

I take special note of the contribution of several Indian Public Sector Undertakings in Mauritius over the last many years. These PSUs, aside from success in their core business activities, have also regularly contributed to Mauritian society through Corporate Social Responsibility and other related activities. I also take note of the several Indian private sector companies that have been equally active in Mauritius through investments in some of the major sectors such as health, hospitality, pharmaceuticals, education, financial services, IT and BPO.

At the same time, there are a number of Mauritian companies that have invested in India in areas such as textile, logistics and banking and are doing thriving business. I invite other entrepreneurs present here to actively consider India as a choice for your business activities.

Friends,

Our Government has embarked upon a very ambitious agenda for the development of India whether it be building 100 smart cities, modernization and revamping of railways, developing dedicated freight and industrial corridors, augmenting power generation, increasing investment in agricultural sector or cleaning the revered Ganga and other rivers.

We are firmly committed to improve business environment and provide speedy decision making. Our focus is growth with good governance and transparency with eye on manufacturing, infrastructure and trade. I understand that many among you were present at this very venue some weeks ago to witness live the launch of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ campaign. This initiative has opened up enormous prospects for the global business community to take advantage of the resurgent Indian economy.

In the short period that we have been in Government, the results have already started to show. The GDP growth is showing signs of recovery, bouncing back to record a growth rate of 5.7% for the April-June quarter, highest in the past two-and-half years. The interest in the economy has surged and the investment sentiment has improved. I would urge you all to take advantage of the new measures announced by our Government. You must move quickly to seize the new opportunities unfolding in India, create a niche for yourselves, and become partner in India’s growth story.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We view our relationship with Mauritius not just through the prism of bilateral engagement but also as our gateway to the Indian Ocean region and Africa. Cooperation and partnership with Africa is an integral component of India’s foreign policy and remains a priority of the Government of India. India has embarked on a broad-based and vibrant policy of economic interaction with the African continent.

Naturally, this makes Mauritius, with its advantageous membership of regional arrangements such as SADC and COMESA, a vital platform in India’s business agenda with Africa. This is especially true in the case of sectors like infrastructure development, ICT, capacity building, agriculture and other related activities.

In conclusion, let me stress again that India and Mauritius need to actively pursue greater economic and commercial depth in our partnership to elevate our bilateral economic and commercial engagement to a level commensurate with the special and enduring status of our bilateral relationship. And we are committed to fully facilitate this joint endeavour of our businesspeople and entrepreneurs.

Thank you.

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