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30.06.2004 General News

Mauritius Prime Minister pays four-day state visit

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Accra, June 30, GNA - Sir Anerood Jugnuath, Prime Minister and Head of Government of the Island of Mauritius begins a four-day state visit to Ghana from Wednesday, June 30 to Saturday, July 3 at the invitation of President John Agyekum Kufuor.

A programme released for the visit includes a visit to the Akosombo Dam. He would attend State Dinner in his honour at the Banquet Hall as part of the 44th anniversary celebrations of Ghana's Republic. Prime Minister Jugnuath would hold talks with President Kufuor at the Castle and visit the Tema Free Zone enclave.

The visit is a reciprocal one by President John Agyekum Kufuor to the island in May last year.

Relations between the two countries had, remained largely at the multi-lateral level until August 2002 when the Ghana Government appointed Mrs Michelline Feillafe as Honourary Consul in Mauritius to strengthen the existing relations between them.

Relations between Ghana and Mauritius date back to the days of the First Republic, under Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah, who supported Mauritius' struggle for Independence. Ghana also supported Mauritius to join the Commonwealth.

The Republic of Mauritius is made up of a group of islands in the Indian Ocean, East of Madagascar and in the Southern part of Africa, comprising the Mascarene group and outlying territories are Rodrigues Island; Cargados Carajos shoals and Agalega Island. The capital is Port Louis.

The Republic of Mauritius has a land area of 2,040 square kilometres with arable land and fish as its main natural resources. It has a population of 1.2 million with unique blend of different races, cultures and religions.

People of European, African, Indian and Chinese origins have created a multi-racial society where the various cultures and traditions flourish in peace and harmony.

The birth rate, which was about three per cent in the 1960s, has considerably reduced to about 1.1 per cent in the last 10 years due to family planning campaigns as well as greater awareness and better education.

Although English is the official language, most of the people in Mauritius are equally fluent in French and Creole.

After gaining independence from the British on March 12, 1968, the country was governed by a constitutional monarch with executive powers nominally vested in the British Monarch. It became a Republic in 1992. The island has maintained one of the developing world's most successful democracies and has enjoyed years of constitutional order, this has been achieved against a backdrop of different cultures, traditions and multi-ethnic groups.

Mauritius operates a Parliamentary democracy with a Prime Minister as the Head of Government with full executive powers.

President Karl Auguste Offman is the Head of State and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Several Mauritius investors have visited Ghana and expressed interest in investing in the economy.

Companies from Mauritius in areas such as textiles, under the Africa growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) Initiative, agriculture and construction are investing in Ghana.

As a result, the Governments of Ghana and Mauritius signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 2003, for the establishment of a joint venture to set up a sugar cane plantation and sugar refinery mill in Ghana. Fukhia Company has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Trade and Industry to develop a sugar cane plantation and refinery in Ghana.

Other companies such as Berlin Textile was due to start the production of T-Shirts and Jeans in March 2003 in addition to the establishment of a Ghanaian-Mauritius partnership to manufacture and export T-shirts and Jeans.

Speedy Company has almost completed negotiations to build a Garment and Textiles village at the Tema Free Zone under the President's Special Initiative on Textiles and Garments.

Speedy Company is also at an advanced stage of negotiations with the State Housing Company to construct 20,000 housing units.

Negotiations are also underway for a textile company in Mauritius to relocate in Ghana to produce and export to the US market under AGOA.

Mauritius has a mixed developing economy based on manufactured exports, agriculture and tourism. Mauritius is seen as one of Africa's few social and economic success stories with a per capita of 8,800 dollars, one of the highest on the continent.

The Gross National Product (GNP) was growing more rapidly than the population in early 1990s.

The Agriculture Sector accounts for one-eighth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs one-sixth of the workforce. Sugar production generate one-third of export earnings, occupying about 80 per cent of the total arable land and country is heavily dependent on food imports, mainly rice.

Technical assistance from Japan and Australia is regenerating the fishing industry.

The Industrial Sector accounts for approximately one quarter of the GDP but employs two-fifths of the workforce.

The country has a thriving market in sugar exports, textiles and a developed tourist industry. Sugar cane is grown on about 90 per cent of the cultivated land area and the crop accounts for 25 per cent of export earnings.

The government's development strategy has revolved around foreign investment and the country has been able to attract more than 9,000 offshore entities.

Investment in the banking sector alone has reached over one billion dollars.

Mauritius' economic performance since 1991 has been very impressive, annual growth rate ranges between five per cent and six per cent with a GDP growth rate of 7.5 per cent and low unemployment of 6.4 per cent. This remarkable achievement has been reflected in increased life expectancy, lowered infant mortality and a much-improved infrastructure.

During President Kufuor's visit to Mauritius, both countries in a communiqu=E9 decided to establish a Permanent Investment Forum and both governments agreed to be facilitators in investments.

This is to enable the private sectors of the two countries to undertake meaningful investment projects for their mutual benefit. Mr Yaw Osafo Maafo Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, signed the 10-point communiqu=E9 for Ghana while Mr Anil Kumarsingh Gayan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Co-operation signed for Mauritius.

Ghana's delegation held working session with the Mauritian counterparts during the visit at which they discussed Financial Services, Information Communication Technology (ICT) and Agriculture. Other sectors discussed were Garment and Textiles; Energy; Tourism and Fishing.

The two countries also agreed that in the shortest possible time, negotiations should be finalised for the conclusion of the Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the process for the ratification of the Agreement on the Promotion and Protection of Investments should be expedited.

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