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April 2013: Regional Economic Integration

Dear Valued Investors,Ken En

We start this edition of our newsletter on a topic that has been at the heart of debates for a long time in Europe and across the Atlantic and which is today gaining a lot of interest in regional forums in emerging markets. Indeed many countries are developing avenues for enhanced intra-trade and investment cooperation.

The ASEAN, CIS, MERCOSUR or UNASUR countries and the regional blocs of the African continent consider economic integration as a key objective with a view to further developing south-south cooperation towards  a more efficient use of resources and the elimination of trade barriers for greater access to market.

On the African continent, this subject is getting a lot of attention. 

In this context, Mauritius chaired the Sixth Conference of African Ministers in charge of Integration (COMAI VI), themed ‘Governance of Integration’, in late April.  The conference saw the participation of ministers from twenty-nine African countries and regional economic communities. Over two days, high level discussions were held on the regional and continental integration process in establishing the African Economic Community. Serious reflection  was pursued on ways to identify innovative and sustainable financing options flowing from sources of revenue within Africa in support of regional and continental integration efforts.

Mauritius is party to a new tripartite initiative involving twenty-six African States - the SADC-COMESA-EAC Free Trade Agreement (FTA). This enlarged FTA will integrate Eastern and Southern African countries into a single bloc, thus paving the way for the African Economic Community which ultimately seeks to achieve an African Economic and Monetary Union under a single customs union.

Through this tripartite initiative, Mauritius will have access to a much larger market with a single economic space, coupled with policies and strategies focused on promoting cross-border investment, reduced cost of doing business and a conducive environment for private sector development. 

Furthermore, with a view to enhancing regional cooperation, Mauritius will host the IOR-ARC Economic and Business Conference scheduled in early July.  This forum will see the participation of Government officials as well as business communities from the twenty member States. These forums will open new opportunities for advocacy for the elimination of barriers to trade and investment in the region and the facilitation of the regional economic integration process. 

At BOI, we remain committed to supporting regional cooperation and development.  We have already secured 18 Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with key African national investment promotion agencies with the aim of ensuring a free flow of investment information and opportunities.

Investor-friendly environments are a sine qua non for wholesome and effective integration. In this context, BOI has embarked on a number of expertise and skills sharing exercises in order to support the development of competitive and attractive doing-business regimes in countries of the region.  As at date, BOI has already received delegations from some twenty African States.    

We believe in the potential of an economically integrated African continent and are optimistic about its high contribution to economic development and growth.  We will certainly continue to support various initiatives to this end while further enhancing our position as the region’s preferred business and investment hub.

Ken Poonoosamy

Managing Director