Foreign relations of Mauritius
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Mauritius has strong and friendly relations with the West, as well as with South Asian countries and the countries of southern and eastern Africa. It is a member of the World Trade Organization, the Commonwealth of Nations, La Francophonie, the African Union, the Southern Africa Development Community, the Indian Ocean Commission, COMESA, and the recently formed Indian Ocean Rim Association.
Trade, commitment to democracy, and the country's small size are driving forces behind Mauritian foreign policy. The country's political heritage and dependence on Western markets have led to close ties with the European Union and its member states, particularly the United Kingdom and France, which exercises sovereignty over neighboring Reunion Island.
Considered part of Africa geographically, Mauritius has friendly relations with other African states in the region, particularly South Africa, by far its largest continental trading partner. Mauritian investors are gradually entering African markets, notably Madagascar and Mozambique. Mauritius coordinates much of its foreign policy with the Southern Africa Development Community and the Organisation of African Unity.
Relations with France and India are strong for both historical and commercial reasons. Foreign embassies in Mauritius include Australia, the United Kingdom, People's Republic of China, Egypt, France, India, Madagascar, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Bangladesh and the United States.
Disputes - international
Under the President of the People's Republic of China Hu Jintao in 2010, an investment package of $750m was allocated to Mauritius to develop the Jinfei Special Economic Zone which consists of 521-acre of land. Buildings of infrastructure and services primarily serving interests of Chinese companies operating the African region but would also eventually open up to foreign parties. The proposed investment package also includes development of advance logistic operations in Mauritius, construction of a university and an oceanographic research centre. This investment package is Mauritius' largest single foreign direct investment ever.
France has remained one of its biggest trading partners; in addition, the two countries share close cultural ties in language, media and literature. Mauritius is a member state of La Francophonie, an organization of French speaking countries.
India has remained one of its biggest trading partners; in addition India has deep social and historical links with a large portion of the population of Mauritius, India is the country's second largest source of foreign assistance.
Both countries share strong common ground when it comes to culture. Both were governed by both Dutch and British rulers and gained their independence in the second half of the twentieth century. Both have got sizeable representations of Indian and Chinese ethnic groups. Of the 30,000 people of Chinese ancestry residing in Mauritius, the vast majority come from the Hakka and Cantonese provinces, both of which are well present among Malaysia's population of Chinese ancestry. In both countries, Islam, Hinduism and Christianity are represented by important communities. Thus, Malaysia's population consists of 60.4% Muslims, 6.4% of Hindus and 9.1% of Christians; the respective figures for Mauritius are 16.6%, 52% and 30%.
Mauritius has established a High Commission in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia is not represented by an embassy in Mauritius, the closest delegates being posted to Zimbabwe. A Double Taxation Avoidance agreement exists between the two countries. Malaysian nationals do not require a visa to enter Mauritius, and Mauritian passport holders do not require a visa to enter Malaysia for tourism.
In recent years, the spectacular development experienced by Malaysia has seen a steady increase in the number of Mauritian visitors to the country. Official figures reveal that 2,320 Mauritian residents disembarked in Malaysia in 2010, a 27.8% increase on the previous year. While this is four times less than the number of Mauritians travelling to Singapore, the trend remains highly positive. In the other direction, 1,438 Malaysian tourists visited Mauritius in 2010, which represents a 23.5% rise on 2009 figures. Most of these tourists arrived during the months of May (143 visitors), June (118), September (188), November (179) and December (172).
Another recent trend has been that of Mauritian youngsters going to Malaysia for higher studies, encouraged by the affordable fees and quality of life. In 2010, 80 Mauritians travelled to Malaysia for this purpose, an eight-fold increase on 2009. An estimated 300 Mauritians were enrolled for tertiary education in Malaysia as at December 2010.
Bangladesh and Mauritius share a common heritage in culture and politics. Diplomatic relations were established in 1972, soon after the achievement of Bangladeshi independence. Both nations have rapidly growing trade ties and increasing investment and financial linkages. Bangladesh has a high commission in Port Louis.
Relations between Pakistan and Mauritius were first established in 1969. Pakistan has a high commission in Port Louis and Mauritius has a high commission in Islamabad. The two countries are progressing the finalisation of a Free Trade Agreement.
The Soviet Union and Mauritius established diplomatic relations on 17 March 1968. The Russian Federation has an embassy in Port Louis, and Mauritius has an embassy in Moscow, which was opened in July 2003. The current Ambassador of Russia to Mauritius is Olga Ivanova. The current Ambassador of Mauritius to Russia is Mahendr Dosieah, who presented his Letters of Credence to Russian President Vladimir Putin on 25 July 2006.
H.E. Dr Nomvuyo Nontsikelelo Nokwe, High Commissioner of South Africa, is in post in Mauritius since 14 May 2012. Relations between South Africa and Mauritius were formalised in 1992 with the establishing of Representative Offices in both countries. Full diplomatic relations were established in 1994. Upon South Africa's return to the Commonwealth, relations have been conducted at the level of High Commission. There is no visa requirements for South Africans visiting Mauritius.
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Official U.S. representation in Mauritius dates from the end of the 18th century. An American consulate was established in 1794 and was closed in 1911. It was reopened in 1967 and elevated to embassy status upon Mauritius' independence in 1968. Since 1970, the mission has been directed by a resident U.S. ambassador. There is a U.S. Embassy in Port Louis, Mauritius.
Mauritius and the Commonwealth of Nations
Mauritius has been a member state of the Commonwealth of Nations since 1968, when Mauritius became independent as a Commonwealth realm. Mauritius has been a Commonwealth republic since March 1992, when the last Governor-General of Mauritius, Sir Veerasamy Ringadoo became the first President of Mauritius.
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