49th National Day of Mauritius
15 March 2017
H.E. Mr. P.V. Lutchmun, High Commissioner of Mauritius in South Africa hosted a reception to celebrate the 49th national day of Mauritius. Taking guests on a journey through history to the modern day Mauritius, High Commissioner Lutchman said, "After our independence on 12th March 1968, the political leadership of Mauritius set itself on the path of transforming the island into a global destination for traders, business executives and holiday-makers.
Photo: H.E. Mr. P.V. Lutchmun, High Commissioner of Mauritius and Mr. Buti Manamela, Deputy Minister in the Presidency
"A right blend of political stability; appropriate economic and fiscal policies; and a mix of incentives have enabled Mauritius to shift from a mono crop economy to a well-diversified and resilient economy. Tourism, manufacturing industries, ICT, financial services, offshore activities, free-port, an emerging sea food hub and medical tourism serve as crucial pillars to the Mauritian economy.
"Over the last few years, Mauritius has embarked on an ambitious economic reform programme with bold reforms that have made it among the most open competitive and low tax economies in the world. As per our Government Programme 2015 to 2019, Government’s objective is to transform Mauritius into a truly forward looking, environmentally sustainable, economically vibrant and innovative country with modern infrastructure, global connectivity, high skills and technology.
Speech by H.E. Mr. P.V. Lutchmun, High Commissioner of Mauritius in South Africa at the National Day Celebration of Mauritius
Honourable Buti Manamela, Deputy Minister in the Presidency
Your Excellency Mr M’Poko, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps
Your Excellencies – Ambassadors and High Commissioners
Fellow Mauritian Citizens
Ladies and Gentlemen
On behalf of the President of the Republic of Mauritius, Dr Ameenah Gurib Fakim, on behalf of our Prime Minister Honourable Pravind Kumar JUGNAUTH and our Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Hon. Seetanah Lutchmeenaraidoo, I have the honour and great pleasure to welcome you all to this gathering in the celebration of our 49th National Day.
We are especially grateful to you Honourable Deputy Minister Manamela, to grace us with your distinguished presence as our Chief Guest representing the Government of South Africa.
Ladies and Gentlemen
This year, on 12th of March, we will celebrate 49 years of the independence and 25 years since Mauritius became a Republic. Later this afternoon, Mauritius will have the pleasure to welcome His Excellency Mr. Mahamudu Bawumia, Vice President of the Republic of Ghana to Mauritius, as the Chief Guest of our National Day Celebrations.
Like many African countries, Mauritius has had its own share of colonial history, from the Dutch to the French and the British. As we gear up to celebrate 50 years of our Independence next year, allow me to take you on a quick journey through our history to the modern day Mauritius.
The Island was named “Mauritius” by a Dutch squadron in 1598, in honour of Prince Maurice Van Nassau. The Dutch settlers occupied the island for a short term, after which Mauritius was colonised by the French in 1735, until it was captured by the British in 1810.
The various population movements of the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries have made of Mauritius a unique blend of different races, cultures and religions. Peoples of European, African, Indian and Chinese origins have created a multiracial society where the various cultures and traditions flourish in peace and harmony.
We have come a long way since our ancestors were brought in from different parts of the world to Mauritius – slaves from Africa and indentures labourers from India – left to endure ignominious treatment at the hands of their colonial masters.
I take this opportunity to pay tribute to our ancestors, who, with their wisdom and the far-sightedness coupled with their tireless hard work and indomitable will-power, went on to forge the economic prosperity of Mauritius. Their descendants worked continuously, over generations, with patience and perseverance, for the prosperous and modern Mauritius that we represent today.
After our independence on 12th March 1968, the political leadership of Mauritius set itself on the path of transforming the island into a global destination for traders, business executives and holiday-makers.
A right blend of political stability; appropriate economic and fiscal policies; and a mix of incentives have enabled Mauritius to shift from a mono crop economy to a well-diversified and resilient economy. Tourism, manufacturing industries, ICT, financial services, offshore activities, free-port, an emerging sea food hub and medical tourism serve as crucial pillars to the Mauritian economy.
Over the last few years, Mauritius has embarked on an ambitious economic reform programme with bold reforms that have made it among the most open competitive and low tax economies in the world. As per our Government Programme 2015 to 2019, Government’s objective is to transform Mauritius into a truly forward looking, environmentally sustainable, economically vibrant and innovative country with modern infrastructure, global connectivity, high skills and technology.
Furthermore, as per our Vision 2030, launched by our former Prime Minister in August 2015, the Government aims to achieve a Second Economic Miracle and Vision 2030 is to put Mauritius into the league of high income economies. By opening up our country and new air access policies, we also aspire to position Mauritius as the regional platform for trade, investment and services to do business in Africa.
While seeking to consolidate traditional sectors such as the sugar cane industry, tourism and manufacturing - and existing service sectors, namely the financial services industry and promote the expansion of business in Africa, our Government will develop new pillars for economic growth, such as the launching of a regional bunkering hub, the development of the ocean economy, and the ICT Enabled Services sectors.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Mauritius is happy and proud to be a member of the African Union; and regional integration bodies such as – the Indian Ocean Commission, the SADC (Southern African Development Community), the COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) and the IORA. Mauritius has signed a large number of bilateral and multilateral agreements including Free Trade Area, Investment Promotion and Protection (IPPAs), BASA (Bilateral Air Services Agreements), Visa Waivers, DTAA’s (Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements) and Memoranda of Understanding for economic cooperation.
Let me now take you through the excellent ties of friendship and cooperation that Mauritius and South Africa share.
Mauritius was among the first countries to start diplomatic relations with South Africa soon after the release of Nelson Mandela from the Robben Island Prison and the ushering of democratic freedom. It is only befitting to mention that our two countries will soon be signing a Twinning Agreement between the Robben Island Museum and the Le Morne Heritage Landscape in Mauritius, which is a UNESCO Heritage Site and a symbol of resistance and struggle for freedom by the slaves.
We are also delighted to note that our bilateral relations with the Republic of South Africa continues to flourish since the days we first opened the High Commission in Pretoria in 1994. The number of Agreements we have signed since then have gradually paved the way for vibrant trade, economic and social interaction between various stakeholders. These Agreements include, inter-alia, a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA), an Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA), an Agreement on Bilateral Cooperation on Sports and Recreation, a Technical Cooperation Agreement between the Ministry of Fisheries of Mauritius & the South African Bureau of Standards, an MOU on Economic Cooperation, a Bilateral Search and Rescue Agreement, and so on.
South Africa has been and continues to be one of our main economic partners in terms of trade and investment. Only last year, our total imports from South Africa amounted to 3.3 billion Rands, while our exports into South Africa totalled 1.7 billion Rands.
South African tourists represent around 10 % of total tourist arrival in Mauritius, with South Africa ranking 4th among the countries of original embarkation after Reunion, France and the United Arab Emirates. It has been increasing consistently over the years, and in 2016, out of the 1.2 million tourists that visited Mauritius, 104,834 tourists were South Africans.
South African FDI flows into Mauritius have remained concentrated in the real estate sector particularly the Integrated Resort Scheme, the Real Estate Scheme and the Invest Hotel Scheme Segment. In 2015, the total FDI from South to Mauritius amounted to Rs 1.4 Billion. Although FDI flows from South Africa have amounted to USD 40 million and above since 2012, there is a need to reverse the downward tendency in FDI and enhance tourist flows to and from South Africa.
Furthermore, over 300 companies having South African shareholding are operational in Mauritius, and nearly 600 South African Nationals hold Occupation Permits as Investors, Professionals and Self-employed in the Property Development, Financial Services, Education, Manufacturing, ICT, Film and Tourism sectors.
Economic policy being an important component of the Mauritian foreign policy, I am pleased to announce that our Economic and Trade Office in Sandton is already operational and we will soon proceed with the official opening.
While our Governments are keenly working towards enhancing the multi-faceted cooperation between our two countries, it is important to note that the first session of the Mauritius-South Africa Joint Committee of Senior Officials, responsible for overseeing the MoU on Economic Cooperation was held in Pretoria from 1st to 2nd September last year. The Joint Committee meeting provided an opportunity to both sides to focus on our bilateral relations, regional issues, investment opportunities, market access and many other projects such as collaboration in the development of the SMEs and the manufacturing sector and so on.
Considering the excellent relations that have always existed between Mauritius and South Africa, we are constantly building on our privileged ties with the latter by envisaging further bilateral collaboration in the sectors of tourism, fisheries, science & technology, education, health, air Services, Standards, Renewable energy, as well as, the setting up of a Joint Commission between Mauritius and South Africa.
I hope and will work towards promoting the exchange of high level visits between our two countries. We believe that such exchanges provide a crucial platform for discussing not only our bilateral and regional commitments, but also, exchanging views on a plethora of issues of socio-economic, political, and multilateral significance and concerns.
I would like to conclude that, as the whole world acknowledges Africa as the rising continent, Mauritius will continue to play its rightful role in the African Union. Mauritius, like South Africa, believes in the potential that can be harnessed through effective regional integration. As the continent emerges as an important player in global affairs, we are confident that our dream of a politically and economically integrated continent is achievable. It is, therefore, our responsibility to work closely together to achieve our goals for the welfare of our peoples.
High Commission of Mauritius in South Africa