U.S., Mauritius start investment treaty talks
The United States and Mauritius will begin formal negotiations toward a bilateral investment treaty (BIT) that promises to raise investor protections and encourage the continuation of market-oriented economic reforms in Mauritius.
“The proposed U.S.-Mauritius BIT will help reinforce the efforts of one of Africa’s strongest performers on trade and economic reform,” said U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, who is attending the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum in Nairobi, Kenya this week.
BITs are legally binding treaties that provide significant legal protections for investors and investments in BIT partner countries. BITS are one of many tools the Obama administration is using to help reform-minded African countries.
AGOA, Trade and Investment Framework Agreements and U.S. trade capacity building assistance also help African countries to “grow their economies through increased trade and investment,” the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said.
The administration is conducting a review of the U.S. model BIT, which is expected to conclude this fall. “This ongoing review is intended to ensure that the U.S. model BIT is consistent with the public interest and the overall U.S. economic agenda. Talks between the United States and Mauritius before the conclusion of the review will proceed at the technical level,” the USTR said.
The United States has 40 BITS worldwide, and five BITs in force in sub-Saharan Africa: Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, the Republic of Congo, and Senegal. In February 2008, the United States and Rwanda signed a BIT, which is pending Senate advice and consent.
In September 2006, the United States and Mauritius signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, which established a regular, high-level forum to address a wide range of trade and investment issues. “The idea of negotiating a U.S.-Mauritius BIT arose out of TIFA discussions,” the USTR said.
Total two-way trade between Mauritius and the United States is valued at $227.7 million in 2008. Top Mauritian exports to the United States include textile and apparel, cut diamonds and jewelry, live animals, prepared fish, optical and medical instruments, and perfume. Leading U.S. exports to Mauritius are wheat, diamonds and jewelry, and machinery. In 2008, Mauritian exports under AGOA and the Generalized System of Preferences were valued at $101.7 million.