Port Louis: India on Wednesday offered USD 500 million concessional line of credit to Mauritius for key infrastructure projects as the two nations signed five pacts, including on ocean economy, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s visit to the strategic Indian Ocean island nation.
“I was pleased to offer a concessional line of credit of USD 500 million for civil infrastructure projects for Mauritius. We intend to quickly build the petroleum storage and bunkering facility in Mauritius,” Prime Minister Modi said at the signing of the pacts following talks with his Mauritian counterpart Anerood Jugnauth.
“I consider our security cooperation to be a cornerstone of our strategic partnership. Our agreement on cooperation in Ocean Economy is an important step in deepening our scientific and economic partnership,” he said.
Mauritius, in turn, offered India cooperation on information exchange on taxation. “I also conveyed our deep appreciation for the support and cooperation offered by Mauritius on information exchange on taxation,” Modi said.
During talks with Modi, Mauritian Premier Jugnauth raised the issue related to Mauritius-India Double Taxation Avoidance Treaty. “I have requested PM Modi to give his full support on DTAA as it is of prime importance to global business sector,” he said at the signing of the agreements.
The India-Mauritius Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) is being revised amid concerns that Mauritius is being used for round-tripping of funds into India even though that country has always maintained that there have been no concrete evidence of any such misuse.
Traditionally, Mauritius has been one of the biggest sources of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into India.
The five pacts signed included a MoU between the two countries in the field of ‘Ocean Economy’ which will provide an extensive framework for cooperation, a novel and critical area of sustainable development in the Indian Ocean Region.
The other agreements signed were a MoU for the improvement in sea and air transportation facilities at Agalega Island of Mauritius, MoU on cooperation in the field of traditional system of medicine and homoeopathy, programme for cultural cooperation between 2015-18 and a pact on import of fresh mango from India.
India also offered to establish a second cyber city in Mauritius after it helped the island set up the first one a decade ago.
Describing his meeting with the the Mauritian Prime Minister as “excellent”, Modi said the outcome of their talks were “truly significant”.
“Our agreement today on the development of Agalega Island is a major stride in our cooperation in infrastructure sector,” Modi said. “People-to-people contacts are at the foundation of our relationship. We always stand in solidarity and support for each other. It comes naturally to us from our friendship & shared values,” he said.
Modi also welcomed Mauritius’ decision to make India its preferential partner in developing its security capabilities. He will participate in the joint commissioning of India-built Offshore Patrol Vessel Barracuda on Thursday.
The two Prime Ministers also discussed ways to combat climate change.
Earlier, Modi also called Mauritius President Rajkeswur Purryag. He was received by Prime Minister Jugnauth on arrival and was accorded a ceremonial welcome.
India also agreed to technically waiving off the visa fee for Mauritius nationals in respect of the new visa on arrival system.
“We have taken the opportunity to review the issue of preferential trade agreement signed in August 2006 between the two countries to further enhance market access and have agreed on the way forward,” Jugnauth said.
“I appreciate that Prime Minister Modi and his government have agreed to redirect the Indian line of credit of USD 200 million initially meant for the light railway transit system to projects in the water and energy sector,” he said.
Prime Minister Modi said he was looking forward to the Mauritius National Day celebrations on Thursday.
“I am grateful to you and the people of Mauritius for the invitation as the Chief Guest of the National Day tomorrow,” he said. Modi is also scheduled to address the Mauritian Parliament on Thursday.