Two Memoranda of Understanding (MoU), aiming to promote economic exchanges and facilitate investments between Mauritius and Madagascar, were signed today during a business forum at the Westin Turtle Bay Resort and Spa, in Balaclava.

The President of the Republic of Madagascar, Mr Andry Nirina Rajoelina, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Mr Seetanah Lutchmeenaraidoo, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Madagascar, Mr Naina Andriantsitohaina, the Chief Executive Officer of the Economic Development Board (EDB) of Mauritius, Mr Francois Guibert, and the Director General of the EDB of Madagascar, Mr Andry Ravalomanda were present. The business forum was attended by some 400 economic operators from Mauritius and Madagascar.

The event, organised by the EDB, focused on the theme Mauritius-Madagascar Transcending to a New Era of Economic Collaboration. The first MoU was signed between the EDB of Mauritius and the EDB of Madagascar and the second one was signed between the Mauritius Africa Fund and the EDB of Madagascar.

In his keynote address, President Rajoelina indicated that the existing bilateral relations between Mauritius and Madagascar are marked by friendship ties that have been forged through a shared desire of both countries to develop their economic exchanges.

Speaking about the business forum, the Malagasy President stated that it demonstrates the willingness of both countries to strengthen their partnership by bringing a new dynamism to the longstanding Mauritius-Madagascar cooperation. At the start of a new chapter in the history of Madagascar, he highlighted, Mauritius is to become an essential partner by supporting the Malagasy socioeconomic transformational phase. Equity, efficiency and mutual respect will be the key factors enhancing the cooperation between both countries, he added.

The President reiterated his commitment towards promoting the welfare of the population of Madagascar and investors by focusing on several priority areas. These are namely: the safety and security of the nation and investors; the provision of energy and water for all; the fight against corruption to ensure social peace; education and vocational training to ensure employability; improvement of health services through mobile clinics in the 119 districts of Madagascar; the provision of decent jobs for the Malagasy population; provision of some 40 000 social housing units; rehabilitation of road networks; and the construction of the first national academy of high level sports so as to professionalise sports in the country.

President Rajoelina also spoke about the promotion of quality tourism in Madagascar while adding that a forum on tourism in Madagascarwill be held in June this year. With regard to the production of rice, he emphasised that the country endeavours to produce 500 000

tons of rice up to 2024 so as to become once again the rice granary of the Indian Ocean. As for the conservation of natural resources,he underlined, the aim is to produce 25 tons of gold yearly and to work with experts in precious metals mining to modernise practices inthe sector.

For his part, Minister Lutchmeenaraidoo underlined that Mauritius as an Ocean State with an Exclusive Economic Zone of 2.3 million km2 needs to make sustainable use of its maritime resources. Both Mauritius and Madagascar, he stated, share a common destiny as they

are endowed with marine resources which need to be tapped to further boost economic growth.

On this score, the Minister pointed out that there are three main pillars that the country needs to exploit to unleash its potential. Theseare: the ocean economy, the development of a port, and the Africa Strategy. By working together in regional integration, Mauritius andMadagascar will benefit from a win-win situation in their economic development process, he added.

As for the Malagasy Minister of Foreign Affairs, he highlighted that the business forum reflects the strong partnership that Mauritius and Madagascar share. Moreover, he called on Mauritian and Malagasy economic operators to make the most of the forum so as to further reinforce economic and business ties between both countries.

Source: Republic of Mauritius