China and Mauritius have signed an ambitious free trade agreement (FTA) that aims to further boost their diplomatic and economic relations.
The China Mauritius Free Trade Agreement covers trade in goods and services, as well as in investment protection matters.
It means businesses based in Mauritius will be able to significantly increase the size of their customer markets, therefore increasing export rates of key products such as sugar, rum, tuna, textiles and cut diamonds.
In addition, Mauritius will enjoy duty-free access to around 8,500 Chinese products, amounting to 96 per cent of Chinese tariff lines, China Briefing reports.
Another anticipated benefit is that Mauritian companies will be able to incorporate Chinese components more easily into the products they manufacture, thereby boosting their export appeal elsewhere.
Eventually, both nations have promised to reach zero tariffs on 96.3 per cent (China) and 94.2 per cent (Mauritius) of traded items, meaning 92.8 per cent of import volumes will be duty-free.
Diplomatic relations between China and Mauritius were officially established back in 1972 and this FTA has been in the pipeline since 2017.
With it, Mauritius hopes to reduce its reliance on Europe and increase its ties with ASEAN nations. It is thought this could contribute to the country being officially listed as a developed economy by 2020.
Meanwhile, China has been a significant contributor to and investor in Mauritian projects, including its airport and a number of highways initiatives.
This FTA is the first between China and what is technically an African country, although the island nation is typically seen as a separate entity from the rest of the continent.
It may be that it is now increasingly viewed as a business hub for locations in the Indian Ocean, Africa and Asia.