Mauritius - Market OverviewMauritius - Market Overview
Mauritius is a small island nation with a population of 1.3 million people. It has one of the most successful and competitive economies in Africa with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $13.27 billion and per capita Gross National Income (GNI) of $10,130 in 2017. According to the International Monetary Fund, real GDP growth is estimated at 3.8 percent for 2018 and projected to reach 3.9 percent in 2019. Mauritius consistently does well on the World Bank’s Doing Business report and, for the 11th consecutive year, the 2019 report ranks Mauritius first among African economies (20th worldwide) in overall ease of doing business.
The most important sectors of the Mauritian economy are: textiles, tourism, financial and business sevices, information and communication technology, seafood processing, real estate development, energy, and education/training. The government is emphasizing innovation as the basis for long-term growth. Mauritius claims an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 2.3 million square kilometers and has aspirations for the ocean economy to play a significant role in its economic development. In addition, the government is undertaking efforts to stimulate economic growth in the following areas: revamping the manufacturing sector, enhancing the attractiveness of the island as a tourist destination, creating new opportunities in the financial services sector; serving as a gateway for investment into Africa; increasing the use of renewable energy; developing smart cities; upgrading and modernizing infrastructure, including public transportation and the port; and developing activities related to artificial intelligence, blockchain technologies, and financial technologies (fintech).
Most bilateral trade between Mauritius and the United States is from Mauritius to the United States, particularly textiles under the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA). Total two-way trade between Mauritius and the United States was valued at $454 million in 2018. Mauritian exports to the United States totalled $330 million in 2018 and the United States is currently the largest export market for Mauritius, slightly ahead of the UK and South Africa, receiving 11.9 percent of total Mauritian exports. Mauritius’ main exports to the United States are textiles and apparel, precious stones/jewelry, processed fish, live primates, sunglasses, cane sugar, and medical devices. Mauritius imported $124 million in goods from the United States in 2018. The principal U.S. exports to Mauritius include industrial/agricultural machinery, liquefied butane and propane, precious stones/jewelry, medical instruments, turkey, almonds, and aircraft parts. Mauritius’ main sources of imported goods are India, China, South Africa, and France.
Mauritian exports are eligible for preferential access to markets of: i) the South African Development Community (SADC), ii) the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), iii) the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC – preferences to Madagascar only), iv) Europe (under the EU-East Africa Interim Economic Partnership Agreement), v) the United States (under AGOA), vi) Japan, Norway, Switzerland, the United States, and the Customs Union among Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), vii) Turkey under the Mauritius-Turkey Free Trade Agreement, and viii) Pakistan under the Mauritius-Pakistan Preferential Trade Agreement. The Mauritian government and the People’s Republic of China completed negotiations for a free trade agreement in September 2018. The agreement has been signed by both countries but will not go into effect until ratified. In January 2018, the third round of discussions between Mauritius and India on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CECPA) was launched. Mauritius also signed an agreement with the UK in January 2019 to safeguard trade preferences it currently enjoys under the interim Economic Partnership Agreement (iEPA) with the European Union. The new agreement, known as the UK-ESA EPA, would enter into force in the event the UK completes the process of exiting the European Union. The Continental Free Trade Agreement, which Mauritius has ratified, entered into force on May 30, 2019.