In October 2019, China and Mauritius officially signed the Free Trade Agreement between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of the Republic of Mauritius (hereinafter referred to as the Agreement). China and Mao have completed the entry into force procedures separately, and the Agreement will enter into force on January 1, 2021.
This is the first free trade agreement signed between China and an African country. The entry into force of the Agreement will further improve the level of mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Mao, promote China-Africa cooperation, and contribute to the construction of a closer China-Africa community of destiny.
Mauritius is an island country in the Indian Ocean southeast of the African continent. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Mao in 1972, bilateral economic and trade relations have developed steadily.
After the entry into force of the Agreement, in the field of trade in goods, the proportion of product tariff items that eventually achieved zero tariffs between China and Mauritius reached 96.3% and 94.2%, respectively. In the field of trade in services, the two sides have promised to open more than 100 branches. In the field of investment, this is the first time that China has upgraded the original investment protection agreement with African countries. At the same time, the two sides have also reached agreements in many fields such as economic and technological cooperation, rules of origin, trade relief, technical barriers to trade and so on.
The China-Mao-Maomantic Free Trade Agreement will create a more open, transparent and convenient business environment for enterprises, improve the well-being of the two peoples, help the economic recovery after the epidemic, and form a good demonstration role in deepening China-Africa cooperation.
The responsible comrades of the World Trade Department of the Ministry of Commerce interpreted the “Free Trade Agreement between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of the Republic of Mauritius”
1. Can you introduce the overall situation of the China-Mauritian Free Trade Agreement?
Mauritius is an island country in the Indian Ocean southeast of the African continent. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Mauritius in 1972, bilateral economic and trade relations have developed steadily.
In December 2017, China and Mauritius launched free trade agreement negotiations. After four rounds of negotiations, on October 17, 2019, China and Mauritius signed the “Free Trade Agreement between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of the Republic of Mauritius” (hereinafter referred to as the “Agreement”) in Beijing. Through joint efforts, the two parties have completed their respective entry into force procedures, and in accordance with the entry into force provisions of the Agreement, agreed that the Agreement will take effect on January 1, 2021.
The China-Mauritian Free Trade Agreement has generally achieved comprehensive, high-level, and reciprocal benefits. The Agreement includes a preamble, 17 chapters and 3 annexes. The chapters include initial clauses and definitions, trade in goods, rules of origin and implementation procedures, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, trade remedies, trade in services, investment, Competition, intellectual property rights, e-commerce, economic cooperation, transparency, administrative and institutional provisions, dispute settlement, exceptions, final provisions, and annexes include tariff reduction schedules for trade in goods, schedules for specific commitments for trade in services, and product-specific rules of origin.
The “Agreement” contributes to the building of a closer China-Africa community with a shared future. The China-Mauritian Free Trade Agreement is the first free trade agreement signed between my country and an African country, filling the gap in the African region in my country’s existing free trade area network structure. The “Agreement” not only provides a stronger institutional guarantee for deepening the economic and trade relations between China and Mauritius, but also raises the level of China-Africa economic and trade cooperation to a new level.
The Agreement is a concrete manifestation of China-Africa traditional friendship, solidarity and cooperation. During the negotiation of the “Agreement”, China has always upheld the concept of truthfulness and sincerity and the correct concept of justice and benefit, negotiated with Mao on an equal footing, fully accommodated each other’s concerns, and strived for a win-win situation to the maximum. In the end, a high-level liberalization arrangement was achieved in the field of trade in goods, and many service departments made high-quality market opening commitments to each other, and agreed to carry out economic and technical cooperation in agriculture, finance, medical care, tourism and other fields.
The “Agreement” has formed a guide and a model for China-Africa economic and trade cooperation. The proportion of zero-tariff items in the trade of goods between the two sides exceeded 94%, and the proportion of imports from each other was close to 93%. In the field of service trade, both parties have committed to open more than 100 sub-sectors. The “Agreement” is the free trade agreement with the highest level of openness in the service field of Mauritania. The investment chapter of the “Agreement” realized the upgrade of the China-Mauritian Investment Protection Agreement signed in 1996. It is the first upgrade of the investment protection agreement signed between my country and African countries. It is necessary for my country to sign and upgrade investment agreements with other African countries and enhance China-Africa economic and trade cooperation. The level of legal protection has positive demonstration significance.
2. What is the significance of the China-Mauritian Free Trade Agreement to my country?
The “Agreement” is an important progress made by my country in implementing the free trade zone strategy under the guidance of Xi Jinping’s thoughts on socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era. As the first free trade agreement signed between my country and an African country, it will play an active role in promoting China-Africa cooperation, and will also build a new open economic system for my country in the new era, forming a major domestic cycle with domestic and international cooperation. The new development pattern of cyclical mutual promotion provides assistance.
The Agreement will inject new impetus into China-Africa practical cooperation. At present, the epidemic is still spreading globally, and both China and Africa are facing the arduous task of fighting the epidemic, stabilizing the economy, and protecting people’s livelihood. The “Agreement” came into effect as scheduled, which reflects the two sides’ unswerving position to promote China-Africa cooperation and China-Africa friendship, and will inject new impetus into China-Africa practical cooperation. The “Agreement” will strongly boost both sides’ confidence in economic growth, help the economic recovery after the epidemic, and play a good role in deepening China-Africa cooperation.
The “Agreement” will become a new platform for my country’s cooperation with Africa. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Mauritius in 1972, bilateral economic and trade relations have developed steadily. Mauritius promotes a free economy and trade policy, attaches importance to the development of trade and the use of international investment, fully integrates into the world trading system, and is committed to becoming an important investment platform for communication between Africa and Asia. Chinese enterprises will gain more advantages and convenience when entering the African market through Mauritius.
The “Agreement” will help my country build a new development pattern. After the “Agreement” comes into effect, various domestic industries have a new platform to participate in international competition, which will enhance their ability to allocate resources in both the international and domestic markets, which will help further strengthen the industrial chain supply chain, and build a major domestic cycle. The new development pattern in which the main body, the domestic and international dual cycles promote each other, provides strong support.
3. What important consensus has been reached in the China-Mauritian Free Trade Agreement on market opening?
In terms of trade in goods. Mauritius will gradually reduce taxes to zero for products that account for 94.2% of the tax items and 92.8% of gross imports from my country through the longest five-year tax reduction period. The main products my country currently exports to wool, such as steel products, textiles and other light industrial products, will benefit from this. my country will gradually reduce taxes to zero for products that account for 96.3% of tax items and 92.8% of my country’s gross imports through the longest 7-year tax reduction period. Mauritius’ exports of clothing and seafood to my country will also usher in growth. At the same time, the two sides also reached consensus on rules of origin and implementation procedures, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and technical barriers to trade.
Service trade. Both China and Mauritania have adopted a positive checklist approach and made open commitments with the same overall level and balanced interests. Mauritania has made commitments in 11 service areas including finance, education, construction, tourism, and health, with more than 130 sub-sectors. China has substantially relaxed restrictions on market access in the areas of business services, finance, and transportation, and the overall level of openness far exceeds China’s commitment to the WTO. In addition, the Mauritian side fully opened the Chinese medicine service market to me for the first time, and agreed to comprehensively strengthen Chinese medicine exchanges and cooperation, setting a benchmark for Chinese medicine “going out”.
Investment. The “Investment” chapter of the China-Mauritian Free Trade Agreement has upgraded the China-Mauritian Investment Protection Agreement signed in 1996, and has greatly improved the scope of protection, the level of protection, and the dispute settlement mechanism. This will not only provide stronger legal guarantees for Chinese companies to invest in Mauritius, but also help companies use this country as a platform to further expand investment cooperation in Africa. In industries such as finance, tourism, communication and information, construction, and processing and manufacturing, China and Mauritius have a high degree of complementarity and cooperation potential. The Agreement can effectively promote the mutual benefit and win-win of the two countries in these investment fields.
4. What important consensus has been reached on the rules of origin in the China-Mauritius Free Trade Agreement?
The China-Mauritius Free Trade Agreement’s criteria for determining originating goods mainly include three categories. One is the complete acquisition of goods; the other is goods produced entirely with original materials; the third is goods produced with non-raw materials, which adopts the regional value component 40% standard In combination with product specific rules of origin, relatively flexible origin standards have been formulated for Mauritius export products such as candy, food, beverages, leather and textiles, and jewelry. In addition, an independent declaration system based on approved exporters was introduced, and an electronic information exchange system of origin was agreed to be established to facilitate enterprises to enjoy benefits.
5. What are the provisions of the China-Mauritian Free Trade Agreement on trade facilitation?
The trade facilitation measures of the China-Mauritian Free Trade Agreement mainly include strengthening cooperation between the customs authorities of the two sides, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and technical trade barriers. In terms of customs cooperation, the “Agreement” stipulates that both parties should simplify the procedures for customs clearance of goods to promote bilateral trade between China and Mauritius. At the same time, within the scope of their respective domestic laws, seek corresponding arrangements for customs cooperation and mutual administrative assistance. In addition, the two sides will strengthen cooperation in trade facilitation, including the implementation of the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement. In terms of sanitary and phytosanitary measures, the Agreement adopted the principles of transparency, border measures, and consultation mechanisms, and on the basis of the WTO’s Agreement on the Implementation of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, strengthened the equivalence of the competent authorities of both parties. The cooperation between the two parties aims to facilitate bilateral trade while protecting the life or health of humans, animals or plants in the territories of both parties. In terms of technical barriers to trade, the “Agreement” incorporates the WTO’s Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade to ensure that both parties better implement relevant WTO regulations. At the same time, it also stipulated corresponding disciplines in standards, conformity assessment procedures, border measures, etc., to improve the transparency of technical trade measures, solve problems encountered in practice through technical consultation channels, and encourage both parties to strengthen technical cooperation in this field.
6. What are the positive effects of the China-Mauritian Free Trade Agreement on Chinese companies going global?
Chinese companies setting up regional headquarters in Mauritius and investing in other African countries through Mauritius can benefit from the following aspects: First, the safety factor of investment is improved. The network of bilateral treaties between Mauritius and African countries reduces the risk of expropriation. The relevant treaties provide for the return of investment and compensation for losses in the event of political unrest, war and national emergency. The second is to obtain cost advantages and convenience. The existing retail network, manufacturing and logistics platforms between Mauritius and other African countries can help companies reduce costs and gain convenience.
7. After the China-Mauritian Free Trade Agreement takes effect, what service industries can Chinese companies go to Mauritius to engage in?
Mauritius adopts a positive list model for its open commitment to the service industry, opening up important service areas such as communications, education, finance, tourism, culture, transportation, and Chinese medicine to my country. One of the highlights of the opening up of services in Mauritius is that in terms of the movement of natural persons, Chinese citizens can go to the open service departments in Mauritius to conduct business. The Chinese people going to Mauritius mainly include business visitors, contract service providers, graduate interns, internal transfer personnel, etc. .
Financial services will be one of the key areas of cooperation between China and Mauritius. In terms of rules, the “Agreement” has formulated a separate annex on financial services, and the two sides agreed to strengthen cooperation in the areas of domestic regulation, regulatory transparency, and recognition. In terms of market access, Mauritius has made high-level opening commitments to China in its insurance, banking, securities and other service sectors, allowing Chinese companies to establish commercial presences in Mauritius and granting national treatment. On the basis of its WTO commitments, China has incorporated the latest opening-up policy in the financial sector. The “Agreement” will create a good business environment and development opportunities for Chinese and Mauritian financial institutions to enter the markets of both sides, and will also provide an opportunity to promote closer and deeper cooperation between the financial sectors of the two countries.
Tourism is one of the pillar industries of the Mauritius economy and the largest service trade sector. Mauritius is rich in tourism resources and is one of the most popular island destinations for Chinese tourists. China and Mauritius have great potential in expanding tourism and tourism-related services trade. According to the “Agreement”, in addition to opening the tourism service market to each other, the two parties will further strengthen cooperation through cooperation in the development of tourism-related infrastructure, the establishment of tourism exchange and cooperation mechanisms, and the joint promotion of tourism products. Communication further provided convenience.
8. What measures have been taken to protect intellectual property in the China-Mauritian Free Trade Agreement?
There are 5 chapters on intellectual property in the China-Mauritian Free Trade Agreement, including general provisions, international conventions, intellectual property and public health, cooperation and final provisions. On the whole, the clause reflects greater tolerance, fully taking into account the differences and development status of the intellectual property systems of the two countries, and promises to further protect intellectual property rights through enhanced cooperation.
9. What are the specific provisions of the China-Mauritian Free Trade Agreement on e-commerce?
E-commerce is a topic of mutual concern for both parties. The two parties will carry out information exchange and sharing of laws, regulations, policies and practical experience, jointly strengthen research and training, promote mutual recognition of digital certificates and electronic signatures, improve the acceptance of electronic versions of trade management documents, and jointly create a good development environment for enterprises Improve efficiency and expand markets to provide greater convenience. The two sides will jointly promote the further development of bilateral trade by strengthening e-commerce cooperation.
10. What are the contents of the trade remedy chapter of the China-Mauritian Free Trade Agreement?
The Trade Remedy Chapter of the China-Mauritian Free Trade Agreement has nine clauses and two parts, which provide more detailed regulations on anti-dumping and countervailing, global safeguard measures and bilateral transitional safeguard measures. The two parties reaffirmed their rights and obligations regarding anti-dumping, countervailing and safeguard measures under the WTO Agreement. When the statutory conditions are met, domestic industries in my country can apply for the use of the above-mentioned trade remedy measures to protect their own interests. In addition, the chapter establishes bilateral transitional safeguard measures to provide relief to domestic industry damage caused by the increase in imports caused by the implementation of the Agreement, which will serve as a safety valve. The design of this transitional safeguard measure mechanism refers to the relevant provisions of the global safeguard measure agreement, while maintaining a certain degree of flexibility in terms of implementation conditions, time limit, frequency and compensation, reflecting the consensus on the prudent use of trade remedies and the maintenance of free trade.
11. What are the main contents of the China-Mauritian Free Trade Agreement in the field of competition policy?
Maintaining a fair and competitive market order is of great significance to achieving the goals of the free trade agreement to increase economic efficiency and increase consumer welfare. To this end, a special competition chapter was established in the China-Mauritian Free Trade Agreement, proposing that competition law enforcement by all parties should comply with the law enforcement principles of transparency, non-discrimination and procedural justice, enhance competition legislation and law enforcement transparency, and strengthen the competition between China and Mauritania. Cooperation and coordination, and through technical cooperation to improve the ability of both parties to implement competition policies and competition laws.
12. What measures does the China-Mauritian Free Trade Agreement have to promote bilateral economic and technological cooperation?
The “Agreement” established a special chapter on economic cooperation, stipulating the objectives, channels, and scope of the two sides in the field of economic cooperation, and made principled plans for cooperation in related fields between the two countries, involving agriculture, innovation, commerce, finance, medical care, education, film, Marine economy, tourism, culture, art and sports and other fields. For example, in the field of pharmaceuticals and medical services, the two parties agree to encourage cooperation in the relevant private sector through personnel exchanges, joint research and commercial applications; encourage training and capacity building in the fields of pharmaceuticals and clinical pharmacy practice, and strengthen the development of pharmaceutical products. Quality control system and testing; agreed to sign a cooperation agreement on Chinese medicine between the China Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Mauritius Ministry of Health, and establish a Chinese medicine center in Mauritius.
The Chinese and English versions of the Agreement have been published on the China Free Trade Area Service Network (http://fta.mofcom.gov.cn).