Sandeep Dikshit

India will be a very reliable partner, says Kalam

Long-term strategy to cushion impact of shrinking textile, sugar sectors discussed Kalam discusses possibility of health tourism in diversification process India to assist in R&D in sugar sector

PORT LOUIS: Building on its long-standing ties with Mauritius, India has offered to help resuscitate two of the three distressed pillars of its economy. In turn, Mauritius has agreed to explore the possibility of allowing India to explore oil and gas in its exclusive economic zone.

Both sides also discussed a long-term strategy to help Mauritius diversify into new sectors that would cushion the impact of the shrinking textile and sugar sectors and expand space for tourism, the sole sector that is performing well.

Mosquito repellent

India agreed to rush five lakh doses of mosquito repellent to help combat a dengue-like mosquito transmitted disease that has caused a scare.

"The proposed agreement on hydrocarbon exploration could be a different ball game. It can potentially be a major industry as the off-shore here holds rich reserves of oil and gas," said Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran while briefing newspersons about the discussions between President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam and Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam here on Sunday.

Mr. Kalam assured that India would be a very reliable partner in making the transition smooth and creating new sources of prosperity.

With the brunt of the economic decline in textiles and sugar being largely borne by people of Indian origin, he indicated India's willingness to double the earlier commitment of sourcing 10 lakh garment pieces from Mauritius. In the long term, both countries would attempt to move to the upper end of the textile range.

Agreement

This intent would be reflected in the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement expected to be signed by the middle of the year, said Mr. Saran.

In the sugar sector, India would assist in research and development. The President also dwelt on introduction of new sugarcane varieties that would yield more fibre to be used for ethanol and generating power.