On October 17, China signed a Free Trade Agreement with Mauritius. This is the 17th FTA China has signed, and the first FTA with an African country. This may help China to export more to Africa more broadly because Mauritius is a member of the COMESA and AfCFTA.
The China-Mauritius Free Trade Agreement negotiation was launched in December 2017, and concluded on September 2, 2018 after four rounds of negotiation. The agreement covers goods trade, services trade, investment, and economic cooperation.
For goods trade, China and Mauritius promised to reduce tariffs to zero on 96.3% and 94.2% of imported goods, respectively. The tariff-free products would account for 92.8% of bilateral trade. The two sides also reached agreement on rules of origin, trade remedies, technical barriers to trade and sanitary and phytosanitary issues.
With regard to services trade, the two sides have promised to open more than 100 sub-sectors. In particular, Mauritius promised to open more than 130 sub-sectors, including telecommunications, education, finance, tourism, culture, transportation and Chinese medicine.
The FTA also has an investment chapter, which is an upgrade of the investment agreement between China and Mauritius signed in 1996 (1996 BIT). The investment chapter has a national treatment provision for both foreign investors and investments, rather than just the “fair and equitable treatment” in the 1996 BIT. It also includes more specific rules on calculating compensation when expropriation happens. The expropriation provision does not apply to compulsory licenses, or revocation or limitation of intellectual property protection. In addition, the chapter has a provision stating that investments shall not be contingent on export requirements, domestic components or technology transfer. Moreover, it adds a non-compliance provision and a transparency provision, which are not part of the 1996 BIT. Similar to the 1996 BIT, the investment chapter includes the investor-state dispute settlement procedure.
Separately, the upgraded China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement takes effect on October 16. The negotiation to upgrade the China-Singapore FTA was concluded in November 2018. It updates provisions on rules of origin, trade facilitation, trade remedies, services trade, investment, and cooperation. In the investment chapter, the parties promise to provide post-approval national treatment and MFN treatment. It also adds three more chapters, including on e-commerce, competition and environment.