India expresses concern over piracy in Indian Ocean

President Pratibha Patil, who is here on a five-day State Visit, met Mauritian Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam and discussed regional and international issues of mutual interest.

"Piracy in the Indian Ocean region adversely impacts on us all. As a country deeply committed to the security of Mauritius and its people, we are determined to work with the Government of Mauritius in enhancing the security of its people through concrete measures," Patil said after the meeting.

The President said India and Mauritius are bound by ties of history, cultural affinities and indeed, kinship. It is even more satisfying that the friendship today has acquired a contemporaneous and vibrant character, to assume the dimension of a strategic partnership.

"Our bilateral relations today are wide-ranging, multi-dimensional and mutually beneficial. Our shared and abiding commitment to the ideals of democracy and pluralism has only reinforced our close and friendly ties. My visit to Mauritius reaffirms our common commitment to take our relations onward to new heights," she said.

On his part, Ramgoolam said Mauritius could become a launching pad for India's business interests in the African continent.

"We believe that Mauritius can be used as a business platform between India and Africa," he said. Describing the meeting with Patil as "productive", he said "both sides discussed several issues of common interests. Mauritius accounts for over 40 per cent of FDI into India.

The offshore sector in Mauritius has proven to be an important source for routing of FDI into India, largely because the Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC) between the two countries gives considerable advantage (particularly in terms of Capital Gains tax liability) to investors using the 'Mauritius route' for investing in India.

As per the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, during the period 1991 to 2008 FDI inflows from Mauritius to India was USD 32.65 billion, amounting to 44 per cent of the total FDI into India over this period.

Mauritius was the single largest source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into India during the period April 2008 to February 2009, with FDI inflows from Mauritius to India amounting to USD 10.1 billion.

Patil said: "While expressing satisfaction over the current state of our relations, we did feel that considerable opportunities existed and that there was untapped potential, which could be exploited, particularly in the area of trade and economic cooperation."

"I am happy to state that a business delegation from India will be joining me to explore business opportunities in Mauritius, and towards giving greater content to this important sphere of our interaction.

"I look forward to my participation in the Business Meet during my stay here, to listen to views from the captains of industry from both sides, and encourage them to participate in our bilateral economic exchanges," she added.

She thanked the Government of the Republic of Mauritius for its valued support on global issues of crucial importance to India.

"Mauritius has been unequivocal in its condemnation of international terrorism. Mauritius has consistently supported India's candidature for permanent membership in an expanded United Nations Security Council," she said.

Earlier, she met Mauritian President Sir Anerood Jugnauth and discussed various issues of mutual interest. She visited Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanic garden and planted a sappling right opposite to the one which was planted by former President A P J Abdul Kalam in 2005.

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