By Assad Bhuglah
The first time I met Mahmood Cheeroo was in 1988 when I was the desk officer at the then Ministry of Trade for trade-related projects in the context of the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC). I had to enlist his collaboration on a regional initiative for bulk purchase of rice and petroleum products, for which he had wide experience as a senior officer of the State Trading Corporation. But it was as from 1996 that we started to get to know each other in the context of the negotiations for the SADC Trade Protocol. I was leading the Mauritian delegation in all the meetings of the SADC Trade Negotiating Forum (TNF) and he was representing the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce & Industry. Since then we had developed a very excellent working relation; we met almost every three days in consultative meetings between the International Trade Division which I was heading and the MCCI for which he was the General Secretary. For almost two decades, we together attended almost all the major international regional trade meetings across the world. His last travel together with me was in September 2011 when we attended the bilateral meeting in Ankara between the trade ministers Mauritius and Turkey in the context of the signing of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Just prior to his retirement in 2013, he started getting health problem. Nonetheless, we continued to interact at social level, given that both of us became Board members of the Islamic Cultural Centre as from 2015.