China and Mauritius signed a free trade agreement (FTA) in Beijing Thursday, the first FTA between China and an African country, according to the Ministry of Commerce (MOC).
The China-Mauritius FTA is the 17th FTA signed by China.
The agreement covers trade in goods and services and investment and economic cooperation.
The FTA will not only provide a more powerful institutional guarantee to deepen bilateral economic and trade relations, but also boost China-Africa economic and trade cooperation, according to the MOC.
Negotiations on the China-Mauritius FTA were officially launched in December 2017. The two sides formally concluded the negotiations on Sept. 2, 2018, after four rounds of intensive negotiations.
In the area of trade in goods, China and Mauritius will eventually achieve zero tariffs on 96.3 percent and 94.2 percent of product tariff items, respectively, involving 92.8 percent of import volume for both countries from each other.
For the remaining tariff items of Mauritius, the tariffs will also be greatly cut, and the maximum tariffs for most of the involved products will not exceed 15 percent.
China's main exports to Mauritius, such as iron and steel products, textiles and other light industrial products, will benefit from it.
Special sugar produced in Mauritius will also enter the Chinese market gradually.
The two sides also agreed on rules of origin, trade remedies, technical barriers to trade and sanitary and phytosanitary issues.
In the area of trade in services, China and Mauritius both promised to open up more than 100 sub-sectors.
Mauritius will open up more than 130 sub-sectors in important service fields such as communications, education, finance, tourism, culture, transportation and traditional Chinese medicine to China.
This is the highest level of opening up in the field of services in Mauritius so far.
In the field of investment, the agreement has been greatly upgraded from the 1996 China-Mauritius bilateral investment protection agreement in terms of protection scope, protection level and dispute settlement mechanism.
This is the first time that China has upgraded the previous investment protection agreement with an African country, which will not only provide stronger protection for Chinese enterprises to go to Mauritius, but also help them further boost investment cooperation in Africa through the platform of Mauritius, according to the MOC.
Meanwhile, the two sides also agreed to further deepen economic and technical cooperation in agriculture, finance, medical care, tourism and other fields.
The two sides will undergo respective domestic procedures for the agreement to take effect.