South Africa and Mauritius are looking at ways of increasing cooperation in order to boost sustainable economic development and ensure food security.
Dr Matthews Phosa, treasurer general of the African National Congress, South Africa’s ruling party, is currently heading a Progressive Business Forum delegation in Mauritius to explore investment opportunities and create a new economic momentum with the island.
Dr Phosa – an influential figure in the ANC – the Acting Finance and Economic Development Minister, Dr Vasant Bunwaree, South African Deputy Minister of Tourism Tokozile Xasa as well as local and South African businessmen took part in a trade and investment seminar at the Grand Bay Conference Centre yesterday.
Dr Phosa urged African nations to be united as emerging nations like China and India, as well as developed countries, show greater interest in the black continent.
“We have to open our economies to the world and reach new markets. And to do that effectively we need regional economic cooperation,” he said. Regional cooperation, according to Dr Phosa, will also help avoid unnecessary duplication.
“If one country has abundant rainfall, let that country produce rice and food. If another is oil-rich, let it produce fuel. We need to identify centres of excellence.”
South Africa has also expressed its desire to use Mauritius as an investment platform to reach new and emerging markets. “The new global players are creating uneasiness in the west. The developed countries say we must be careful with the new economic powers. But if China money is good for them, then it is good for us.”
Dr Phosa also urged investors from his country to make the most of the diplomatic and economic ties which already exist between South Africa and Mauritius. “Mauritius is not only for lovers and honeymooners. It is also an economic destination and a unique one.”
The political and social stability of Mauritius is also another factor which can foster trade between the two countries, as Dr Phosa says it creates confidence in investors.
“I invite you all to South Africa to showcase the key investment opportunities which exist in Mauritius. We are aggressive and want to go into the unknown,” he told the meeting.
Dr Bunwaree, meanwhile, said that South Africa remains one of the most important trade partners of Mauritius, accounting fot more than 13% of total imports and 6% of exports. South African tourists account for 9% of tourist arrivals and foreign direct investment last year represented Rs1.5 billion.
“I still believe that we are far from optimising the opportunities for bilateral cooperation. We should renew our efforts to organise events like this in Mauritius and in different cities in South Africa,” he suggested. Dr Bunwaree has also stated that Mauritian and South African entrepreneurs can join hands to venture into mainland Africa.