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Mauritius

Support for Mauritius’ participation in the Trade in Services Agreement negotiations

Project to assess implications of joining Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) negotiations.
Country: Mauritius
Host: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade
Start date: 01/05/2015
End date: 16/12/2016
Policy area: Trade
Policy expert: Rashmi Banga 
Project manager: Joel Burman
Background

As Mauritius continues its economic transformation, a major aspect of this process remains the consolidation of its services sector. In view of this fact, the Government of Mauritius has decided to join the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) negotiations. TISA is currently being negotiated by 24 members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which together account for about 70% of world trade in services. By joining this select group of countries willing to expand trade in the services sector, Mauritius aims to send an important signal to the investor community and create a more conducive environment to attract investment in the services sector amongst others.

The further development of the services sector, increased exports of services and FDI are expected to create more jobs, lead to higher level of economic growth and by extension contribute to poverty reduction. While TISA is plurilateral in nature and is currently being conducted outside the framework of the WTO Doha Development Round, it will nonetheless influence other services negotiations that Mauritius is engaged in. There is therefore a need to assess the implications of signing the agreement on different services sectors and on overall economic development of the economy.

Given the limited experience and capacity constraints in Trade in Services negotiations, the assistance of the Commonwealth Secretariat is being sought to support Mauritius through the negotiations to ensure that the final outcome delivers on the above expectations and is pro-development.

Goal

The Government of Mauritius maintains an evidence-based position on the TISA Framework Text.

Impact

This long term assignment will assist Mauritius to elaborate on the Country’s position on the TISA Framework Text, and draw-up Mauritius’ initial schedule of commitments.

A major aspect of Mauritius’ economic transition is the consolidation of its services sector. This project, which commenced in October 2015, will provide technical assistance relating to the negotiation of and participation in the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). To date, this has involved an assessment of the implications of signing the TiSA, in line with existing commitments, and focusing initially on the financial services sector.

The target beneficiaries are expected to focus on staff from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade and the team of TiSA negotiators engaged in the negotiation process. These staff will receive targeted capacity building and skills transfer from a long term expert, focusing on the different elements of the possible architecture of TiSA and the best possible negotiating option for Mauritius, including fall-back positions, especially in respect of Mode 4. 

Outputs
  • An assessment has been conducted on the implications of signing the TiSA, in line with existing commitments, and focusing initially on the financial services sector.
  • Mauritius’ initial offer has been reviewed and amended so that it can be tabled to Parliament for submission to TISA parties.
  • An assessment of 23 existing offers for each of the TISA parties for the negotiations has been completed.
  • 23 corresponding draft requests were prepared and circulated, and a matrix assessing the relevance of existing commitments on services at both the multilateral, regional and bilateral level was developed as a starting point to identifying the offensive and defensive positions.