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Strengthening export competitiveness in Mauritius - FINAL WORKSHOP

Posted on: May 24, 2018

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The two-days Final Workshop on Rules of Origin, Business and Export Development in the context of the Programme “Strengthening export competitiveness for inclusive growth in Mauritius, in the context of the i-EPA implementation” was held at Le Mériden Hotel in Pointe aux Piments on 8th and 9th March 2018.

On Day 1, participants received a presentation of two of the output documents: Manual on Rules of Origin and the Business Export Development Strategy - Business Model Canvass.

Both manuals have been provided to each selected SME and they have provided feedback.

The workshop was attended by the TradeCom II Regional Trade Expert Mrs Paula Hippolyte-Bauwens. In her Introductory Statement she was enthusiastic to receive the results and the outputs of more than 7 months of studies, analyses, meetings and on-the-job training, namely the Manuals on Rules of Origin and on Export Business Strategies as well as the proposal of the European Business Information Centre. She also expressed the expectation of the TradeCom II PMU that these outputs will stand the test of time, ownership and sustainability for years to come and will, in their own way, contribute to trade expansion, enhanced competitiveness and poverty reduction in Mauritius. These outputs are the reason that this programme is considered as a pilot programme in terms of the way it was conducted and the level of concertation engendered.

In his opening key-note address, the Minister of Business, Enterprise and Cooperatives, Mr Soomilduth Bholah thanked TradeCom II, the EU and the Contractor, as well as the Press, who supported this programme until the end and who all played a part in the global trading landscape of Mauritius. He insisted on the importance of SMEs in Mauritius as being the biggest contributors to the country’s global trade but whose trading capacities to be developed, as they are vulnerable to external shocks. He underscored the vision of the Government to make Mauritius a strategic hub for international trade and to resolve the untapped export potential issue that currently bedevils the sector. Furthermore, Mr Bholah listed the many obstacles faced by the private sector while posturing that these posed serious challenges for its growth and competitiveness, highlighted the pertinence of this programme and lauded TradeCom II’s exemplary support, providing direct assistance to the beneficiaries, while demonstrating the multiplier effect of the programme.

M. Golabek, Chargé d’Affaires of the EU Delegation lauded the Women’s and Youth component of this programme especially as it is being held on the International Women’s Day. The programme aligns itself with the EU’s own support to innovative trade and the private sector in Mauritius and in general in that it supports the reform and streamlining of transparency, supports the national indicative programme, provides technical expertise to enhance the policy framework and provides capacity building to the private sector, while encouraging public -private sector collaboration. The EU announced its recent allocation of 60m Mrupees to the EU-SADC Trade-Related Facility which aims at developing SMEs and enhancing the export development capabilities of SADC countries.

Mme. Canabady, Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade

expressed sincere gratitude to the EU and TradeCom II for their support which provides real hope for a deeper and wider EPA for Mauritius. She highlighted the economic situation that reveals the small contribution of SMEs to Mauritian exports and the dependence on a narrow export base, which is unsustainable. She pointed out government schemes which assist SMEs to attain regional and international markets and expressed hope to build on these schemes. She also announced the conversion of SMEDS to SME Mauritius set up to carve out individual tools for SME development in the country. She vividly encouraged the development of a follow-up programme to assist with the implementation of the results of this programme.

An interesting aspect of these sessions is the “testimonials” that allowed SME representatives to speak to their experience with the programme, their assistance in developing the manuals and their expectations going forward.

The second day was dedicated to a debriefing on the implementation of the programme and its outcomes. A third technical information session was conducted on the presentation of the Economic Business Information Centre (EBIC) proposal.

The workshop ended with a discussion on the sustainability of the programme with interventions by SME Mauritius, Business Mauritius and Association of Mauritian Manufacturers (Made in Moris), as well as the Maurice Standards Bureau.

Programme funded by European Union at the request of ACP Group - Implemented by AESA CONSORTIUM