Movement Gains Momentum: Although the Africa-India Summit in Delhi Grabbed All the Headlines, an Equally Intense Conference Was Attempting to Establish New Lines of South-South Cooperation in the Island State of Mauritius. Anver Versi Attended the Conference

By Versi, Anver | African Business, May 2008 | Go to article overview

Movement Gains Momentum: Although the Africa-India Summit in Delhi Grabbed All the Headlines, an Equally Intense Conference Was Attempting to Establish New Lines of South-South Cooperation in the Island State of Mauritius. Anver Versi Attended the Conference


Versi, Anver, African Business


The Africa-America-Asia Business Summit, organised by the Commonwealth Business Council, the Republic of Mauritius, the Mauritius Investment Board and Unctad brought together key public and private players from the three continents for a two-day discussion in the Mauritian capital of Port Louis. African Business was privileged to be the media partner at this critical meeting.

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Opening the meeting, Dr Mohan Kaul, chief executive of the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC) said Mauritius was the ideal choice for the summit because of historical ties with both Asia and Africa and because of its role as an important conduit to global trade and investment.

He said many African heads of government had told him that they wanted their economies to be like that of Mauritius. He reminded Prime Minister Dr Navinchandra Ramgoolam that 10 years earlier, Dr Ramgoolam's vision was to make Mauritius as successful an economy as Singapore. "Today, Mauritius is not just realising its dream, but also is serving as a role model for other countries," Kaul said.

"I believe this success relies on three factors," Kaul continued. "Firstly, Mauritius has an open economy and sees the world as one market. Secondly, it has focused on building a pool of highly skilled human resources and thirdly, it has invested in good governance and infrastructure.

"CBC has also been an advocate for good governance, the development of a sound market economy and investment in infrastructure. It is encouraging to see countries that have pursued this path reaping the benefits in terms of economic growth, particularly in Africa," he said.

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Prime Minister Ramgoolam said: "There is a realisation that the rapid growth of China and India is rebalancing economic power in the world, giving more clout to the South. South-South partnership can definitely build on this new development thrust, on the fact that Asia and Latin America are major drivers of global GDP growth and that Africa's economy also is expanding faster than world GDP".

Rajesh Jeetah, Mauritius minister of industry, SMEs, commerce and co-operatives, presented sets of fascinating figures and drew some sobering conclusions.

He said that in terms of merchandise exports, the EU leads with $4.4 trillion (37% of world total) followed by Asia with $4.2 trillion (34%), North America with $1.4 trillion (12%), South and Central America with $0.7 trillion (6%), Africa with $0.38 trillion (3%) and Oceania with $0.15 trillion (1.3%).

In terms of major trading countries, the only Third World country to make the list of the top five was China in third place, behind the US (total trade: $2,957bn; trade per capita: $10,164) and Germany (total trade: $2,019bn; trade per capita: $26,400). China's total trade was $1,759bn but trade per capita worked out at only $1,207--but given the size of its population, the figure is relatively impressive.

China, as expected, leads in Asia followed by Japan (total trade: $1,225bn; trade per capita: $10,112); Korea (total trade: $634.7bn; trade per capita: $13,601); Singapore (total trade: $510.3bn; trade per capita: $769,124); Malaysia (total trade: $291.6bn; trade per capita: 11,603); and India (total trade: $295bn; trade per capita: $307).

On the continent, South Africa leads with total trade of $135bn (trade per capita: $2,916); followed by Algeria (total trade: $75.6bn; trade per capita: $9,780) and Nigeria (total trade: $73.4bn; trade per capita: of $447)--with a high population (140m) once again playing a role. Mauritius, incidentally, comes in at number five with total trade of $5.8bn but a trade per capita ratio of $6,347.

For the Americas, Mexico leads with total trade of $518.4bn (trade per capita: $4,643) followed by Brazil (total trade: $223.2bn; trade per capita: $1,234) and Argentina (total trade: $80.5bn; trade per capita: $2,091). …

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