February 18th, 2009 | China Daily Hu signs Mauritius accords
China and Mauritius sealed new agreements on economic and technological cooperation yesterday to further their 37-year history of good relations.
Calling his talks with Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam “productive”, President Hu Jintao said he and Ramgoolam reached “extensive common understanding on deepening traditional friendship” and “expanding practical cooperation”.
Hu and Ramgoolam shared some details of their talks after they toasted the signing of the agreements, which include the funding of the extension project for Port Louis’ Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport Terminal and a general grant.
The leaders lauded the mutual trust and understanding between the two countries.
Despite the fact that both China and Mauritius are developing countries, “China has assisted Mauritius in agriculture, health, education, sports and infrastructure,” the Mauritian prime minister said.
“We both agreed to maintain high-level exchanges, establish even closer ties in economic and trade areas, deepen people-to-people cultural exchanges and enhance our cooperation in international affairs,” Hu said.
During their talks, Hu expressed China’s willingness to share experiences in supervising financial sectors, stimulating economic growth and exploring ways to cope with the world financial crisis.
China will encourage Chinese businesses to invest in Mauritius, Hu said.
Hu also pledged that China will keep exchanging views and coordination with Mauritius over climate change, sustainable development of island countries and reforms in the United Nations.
Hu told reporters he and Ramgoolam also agreed to help speed up the construction of the Tianli economic and trade cooperation zone, which Ramgoolam terms as the biggest integrated project ever developed in Mauritius.
According to the local Le Matinal newspaper, the Tianli zone will be “an integrated project”, with factories, housing and schools, including a technology school to help train more young people.
The $750 million project is expected to create jobs directly for some 34,000 people while 8,000 will benefit from indirect jobs, Ramgoolam revealed during their meeting with the media.
Ramgoolam also said China will help build two agricultural schools and provide additional scholarships so 65 Mauritian young people will be able to study in China every year. At present the number is 45.
China also agreed to lend Mauritius $260 million to expand the island nation’s airport.
Hu signed deals paving the way for an interest-free loan of 40 million yuan ($5.9 million) and a 30 million yuan grant.
Mauritius was the last leg of Hu’s five-nation visit, which ends today.
During his stay in Port Louis, he also held talks with Mauritius President Anerood Jugnauth.
Hu also met with opposition leader Paul Berenger.
Yesterday afternoon, Hu laid a wreath at Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Memorial and planted a sapling at the SSR Botanical Garden.
Ramgoolam the Senior (1900-1985) is known as “Father of the Nation” among Mauritians. Four years after he led Mauritius to win independence from the United Kingdom in 1968, Mauritius established diplomatic relations with China.
Economic and trade ties between China and Mauritius have grown rapidly.
Last year, bilateral trade reached $323 million, an 11.7-percent increase year-on-year.
Mauritius is one of Africa’s most stable and prosperous countries. The island of 1.3 million people promotes itself as Asia’s gateway to Africa.
Analysts say Mauritius, with its established and stable financial sector, can be of strategic importance to China.
“It is the key economy in the Indian Ocean region,” said Martyn Davies, head of the Centre for Chinese Studies at South Africa’s Stellenbosch University.