A senior Mauritian trade official has said Chinese industrialists are encouraged to invest in various sectors in the Indian Ocean island country.
"Our future relationship with China should be in the field of increasing investment from China," Mauritian Minister of Industry and International Trade Jaya Krishna Cuttaree said in Port Louis in a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua.
The 62-year-old minister, who visited China in 1992, made the remarks prior to the Second Ministerial Meeting of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum, scheduled for Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, on Dec. 15-16.
"We have very good political relationship with China and all along now we have been trying to develop trade relationship between the two countries," he said.
Although Mauritius has a very strong balance of trade deficit with China, he said, this can be compensated by growing investment from China.
He listed textiles, pharmaceuticals and software development as major areas open to Chinese investment, explaining that the Chinese have the expertise to produce textiles and have also developed a good pharmaceutical industry.
Cuttaree stressed that Chinese investors should look at possibilities in the information technology field as Mauritius is trying to turn itself into a cyber island.
"In this field, there are lots of possibilities, and I think Chinese should look at these possibilities here," he said.
The minister reminded Chinese investors of how his country is situated in terms of economic blocks.
Mauritius is a member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and the Southern African Development Community, both of which are huge regional markets.
The island country also has duty-free and quota-free access to the European and American markets.
"They are preferential markets, and using Mauritius as a place to operate can give Chinese businessmen access to these markets which China cannot get on its own," Cuttaree said.
Sino-Mauritian trade had been on the rise in recent years, with exports and imports between the two countries topping US$113 million in 2000.
The China-Africa Cooperation Forum, known as the Ministerial Conference Beijing 2000, was initiated in Beijing in October 2000.
The Addis Ababa meeting will attract the ministers in charge of foreign affairs and trade from 47 members of the organization.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will be present at the opening ceremony and deliver a speech, and 10 leaders from African countries, as well as representatives from international and regional organizations, will also attend.
The main task of the meeting is to review the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and the program for China-Africa cooperation in economic and social development, two documents passed during the first ministerial meeting.
The participants will also discuss cooperation in key fields such as agriculture and human resources, and the prospects for development and exchanges in the future.
An action plan on the specific steps for cooperation between China and Africa over the next three years is expected to be passed during the meeting.
(Xinhua News Agency December 3, 2003)