Executive Summary

Mauritius is an island nation with a population of 1.3 million people. Its land area of only 2,040 square kilometers understates the country’s importance to the Indian Ocean region as it controls a vast maritime zone. The Government of Mauritius (GoM) claims an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of approximately 2.3 million square kilometers, the 20th largest EEZ in the world by at least one measure. Mauritius has a stable and competitive economy, with a GDP of USD 12.38 billion and per capita GDP over USD 9,600 in 2017. The economy grew by 3.9 percent in 2017 and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates it will continue to grow at a moderate rate of 3.9 to 4 percent in the medium term. The inflation rate increased from 1.0 percent in 2016 to 3.7 percent in 2017 and is expected to rise to 4.5 percent in 2018, mainly due to an upward trend in oil prices and the introduction of a national minimum wage in Mauritius in January. The unemployment rate decreased from 7.3 percent in 2016 to 7.1 percent in 2016, although it is significantly higher among women and youth. According to the World Bank’s 2018 Ease of Doing Business Index, Mauritius ranks first in Africa and 25th worldwide (out of 190 countries).

Since achieving independence in 1968, Mauritius has made a remarkable economic transformation from a mono-crop economy based on sugarcane production to a diversified economy driven by export-oriented manufacturing (mainly textiles), tourism, financial and business services, information and communication technology, seafood processing, real estate and education/training. Authorities plan to emphasize services and innovation in the coming years. After several years of sluggish growth, the GoM is undertaking efforts ahead of the 2019 elections to stimulate economic growth in five areas: serving as a gateway for investment into Africa; increasing the use of renewable energy; developing smart cities; growing the ocean economy; and upgrading and modernizing infrastructure, including public transportation, the port and the airport.

Government policy in Mauritius seeks to promote trade and investment. The GoM has signed Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements with 51 countries and maintains a legal and regulatory framework that keeps Mauritius highly-ranked on “Ease of Doing Business” and good governance indices. In recent years, Mauritius has been especially intent on attracting foreign direct investment from emerging economies like China and India, as well as courting more traditional markets like the United Kingdom, France and the United States. The GoM, which is currently in talks with both India and China to sign bilateral free trade agreements, promotes Mauritius as a safe, secure place to do business due to its favorable investment climate and tradition as a stable democracy. Corruption in Mauritius is low by regional standards but there remains room to improve in terms of transparency and accountability.

Table 1

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2017 50 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/
research/cpi/overview
World Bank’s Doing Business Report “Ease of Doing Business” 2017 25 of 190 http://www.doingbusiness.org/rankings
Global Innovation Index 2017 64 of 127 https://www.globalinnovation
index.org/analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country (M USD, stock positions) 2016 USD 6,962 http://www.bea.gov/
international/factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita 2016 USD 9,770 http://data.worldbank.org/
indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

Policies Toward Foreign Direct Investment

Mauritius actively seeks foreign investment. The Investment Office (formerly the Board of Investment) of the newly constituted Economic Development Board (EDB) is the single gateway government agency responsible for promoting investment in Mauritius, and for helping guide investors through the country’s legal and regulatory requirements.

According to a number of surveys and metrics, Mauritius is among the freest and most business-friendly countries in Africa. The 2018 Index of Economic Freedom, published by the Heritage Foundation, lists Mauritius as a “mostly free” economy with the best ranking in Sub-Saharan Africa. Globally, the Heritage Foundation ranks Mauritius 21st. For the tenth consecutive year, the World Bank’s 2018 Doing Business report ranks Mauritius first among African economies, and 25th worldwide, in terms of overall ease of doing business.

There is no formal ongoing dialogue with investors. However, one-to-one meetings are usually held with investors while the government prepares its annual budget.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

A non-citizen can hold, purchase, or acquire real property under the Non-Citizens (Property Restriction) Act (NCPRA), subject to government approval. A foreigner can acquire residential property and apartments under the government-regulated Property Development Scheme (PDS) http://www.investmauritius.com/schemes/pds.aspx. The PDS replaces the previous Integrated Resort Scheme (IRS), and the Real Estate Scheme (RES). The NCPRA was amended in December 2016 to allow foreigners to purchase certain types of properties, as long as the amount paid is over 6 million Mauritian rupees (approximately USD 166,000). A non-citizen is eligible for a residence permit upon the purchase of a villa under the PDS if the investment made is more than USD 500,000. More information is available at http://dha.pmo.govmu.org/English/Mandate/Pages/Non-Citizens-Property-Restriction.aspx 

Regarding business activities, the GoM generally does not discriminate between local and foreign investment. There are, however, some business activities where foreign involvement is restricted. These include television broadcasting, sugar production, newspaper or magazine publishing, and certain operations in the tourism sector.

In television broadcasting, the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) will not grant a license to a foreign company or to a company more than 20 percent-owned or controlled by foreign nationals. Similarly, a foreign investor cannot hold 20 percent or more of a company that owns or controls any newspaper or magazine, or any printing press publishing such publications. The IBA Act can be accessed via the following link: http://www.iba.mu/legal.htm .

In the sugar sector, no foreign investor is allowed to make an investment that would result in 15 percent or more of the voting capital of a Mauritian sugar company being held by foreign investors. More information can be accessed via the following link: http://www.stockexchangeofmauritius.com/downloads/securities-investment-by-foreign-investors-rules-2013.pdf .

In the tourism sector, there are conditions on investment by non-citizens in the following activities: (i) guesthouse/tourist accommodation; (ii) pleasure craft; (iii) scuba diving; and (iv) tour operators. Generally, the limitations refer to a minimum investment amount, number of rooms, or a maximum equity participation, depending on the business activity. Details of the restrictions can be accessed via the following link: http://www.tourismauthority.mu/en/licence-categories-11/tourist-accommodation-certificate-30.html .

The Investment Office of the EDB screens foreign investment proposals and provides a range of services to potential investors. The EDB is a useful resource for investors exploring business opportunities in Mauritius and provides assistance with occupation permits, licenses, and clearances by coordinating with relevant local authorities. In 2017, the U.S. Embassy in Port Louis did not receive negative comments from U.S. businesses regarding the fairness of the government’s investment screening mechanisms.

The Investment Office of the EDB reviews proposals for economic benefit, environmental impact, and any relation to national security. EDB will then advise the potential investor on specific permits or licenses required, depending on the nature of the business. Foreign investors can also apply through the EDB for necessary permits. In the event an investment fails review, the prospective investor may appeal the decision within the EDB or to the relevant government ministry.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

The most recent reviews came in 2014. In June 2014, the GoM conducted an investment policy review with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The review can be accessed via the following link: http://www.oecd.org/investment/countryreviews.htm . The review concluded that, while policies and legislation in Mauritius support private sector development, incentive schemes tend to bias investment towards real estate and property development. In October 2014, the GoM also conducted a trade policy review with the World Trade Organization (WTO), which can be accessed via the following link: http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tpr_e.htm .

Business Facilitation

The GoM recognizes the importance of a good business environment to attract investment and achieve a higher growth rate. On May 20, 2017, the Business Facilitation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2017 entered into force. The main reforms brought about by this legislation are: expediting the process to start a business, streamlining procedures for issuing construction permits, facilitating property registration, improving the system for tax collection, and implementing a national e-licensing platform (a single window for application and processing of licenses and permits).

The incorporation of companies and registration of business activities falls under the provisions of Companies Act 2001  and Business Registration Act 2002 . All businesses must register with the Registrar of Companies. As a general rule, a company incorporated in Mauritius can be 100 percent foreign-owned with no minimum capital. According to the World Bank 2018 Doing Business report, while the procedures for registering a company takes one day, actually starting a business takes five days.

After the Registrar of Companies issues a certificate of incorporation, companies must register their business activities with the EDB. The company can then apply for occupation permits (work and residence permits) and incentives offered to investors. EDB’s investment facilitation services are available to all investors, domestic and foreign.

In partnership with the Corporate and Business Registration Department (a division of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development), the Mauritius Network Services (MNS) has implemented the Companies and Business Registration Integrated System (CBRIS), a web-based portal that allows electronic submission for incorporation of companies and application for the Business Registration Number, file statutory returns, pay yearly fees, register businesses, and search for business information. Applicants can register with MNS at the following link: https://portalmns.mu/cbris/. 

Outward Investment

The GoM imposes no restrictions on capital outflows. Due to the small size of the Mauritian economy, the government encourages Mauritian entrepreneurs to invest overseas, particularly in Africa, to expand and grow their businesses. As part of its Africa Strategy, the government has established the Mauritius Africa Fund: a public company with USD 13.8 million capitalization to support Mauritian investment in Africa. Through the Fund, the government participates as an equity partner up to 10 percent of the seed capital invested by Mauritian investors in projects targeted towards Africa. The government has signed agreements with Senegal, Madagascar, and Ghana establishing and managing Special Economic Zones in these countries and has invited local and international firms to set up operations there. To further facilitate investment, Mauritius has also signed Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements with African states.

Since 2012, the Board of Investment (now restructured as the Investment Office of the EDB) has been operating an Africa Center of Excellence, a special office dedicated to facilitating investment from Mauritius into Africa. It acts as a repository of business information for Mauritian entrepreneurs about investment opportunities in different sectors in Africa.

In 2017, gross direct investment flows abroad (excluding the global business sector) amounted to USD 72 million according to Central Bank of Mauritius statistics. The top three sectors for outward investment were finance and insurance activities (44 percent), manufacturing (24 percent) and real estate activities (23 percent). Investment abroad was mainly geared towards developing countries and Africa was the biggest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) amounting to USD 41 million. Kenya and France were the top two recipient countries with shares of 36 percent and 9 percent, respectively. Data on outward investment can be obtained here: https://www.bom.mu/publications-and-statistics/statistics/external-sector-statistics/direct-investment-flows .

BITs or FTAs

In September 2006, Mauritius and the United States signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), aimed at strengthening and expanding trade and investment ties between the two countries. The United States has not signed a Bilateral Investment Treaty or a Free Trade Agreement with Mauritius. Mauritius benefits from duty free and quota free access to the United States on approximately 6500 tariff lines through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). This trade preference is valid until 2025 unless Mauritius graduates out of AGOA before then.

Mauritius has been a member of the World Trade Organization since 1995 and has signed trade agreements with several regional blocs and countries. These include the Common Market for Southern and Eastern Africa Free Trade Area (COMESA), the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC – only Madagascar offers trade preferences under the IOC), the interim Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union (EU), the Southern African Development Community Free Trade Area (SADC), a free trade agreement with Turkey, and a preferential trade agreement with Pakistan.

In April 2018, the Mauritian government and the People’s Republic of China held the first round of negotiations for a free trade agreement. In January 2018, the third round of discussions between Mauritius and India on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CECPA) was launched.

As of March 2018, Mauritius has signed Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (IPPA) with 44 countries. The following 28 IPPAs have been ratified and are in force: Barbados, Belgium/Luxemburg Economic Union, Burundi, China, Czech Republic, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Madagascar, Mozambique, Pakistan, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Republic of Korea, Romania, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Turkey, U.K. and Northern Ireland, and Zambia. The following 16 IPPAs have been signed but await ratification: Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Cote D’Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea Republic, Kenya, Mauritania, Nepal, Rwanda, Swaziland, Sao Tome and Principe, United Arab Emirates, and Zimbabwe. Updated information on IPPAs can be accessed via the following link: http://www.investmauritius.com/downloads/ippa.aspx .

Bilateral Taxation Treaties

In December 2013, Mauritius signed a Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) and an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) with the United States to implement the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). Procedures for FATCA reporting can be accessed via the following link: http://www.mra.mu/index.php/e-services/fatca .

Mauritius has also signed TIEAs with Australia, Austria, Denmark, Faroe Island, Finland, Greenland, Guernsey, Iceland, Korea and Norway. TIEAs with Argentina, Greece and Isle of Man await signature.

As of March 2018, Mauritius has concluded Double Taxation Avoidance Treaties (DTATs) with 43 countries: Australia (partial), Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Botswana, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Germany, Guernsey, India, Italy, Kuwait, Lesotho, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Malta, Monaco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Rwanda, Republic of Congo, Senegal, Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Swaziland, Sweden, Thailand, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. In addition, 8 treaties await ratification: Cape Verde Gabon, Ghana, Jersey, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and Russia; 4 treaties await signature: Cote d’Ivoire, Gibraltar, Malawi and Gambia. Updated information on TIEAs and DTATs can be accessed via the following link: http://www.mra.mu/index.php/taxes-duties/double-taxation-agreements .

Mauritius also adopted the OECD’s Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information (Common Reporting Standard – CRS), which sets a global benchmark that participating countries will adhere to in a highly proactive fiscal-information world. The first reporting under this standard will be undertaken by September 2018. Further information on the list of reportable jurisdictions for the CRS can be accessed via the following link: http://www.mra.mu/index.php/business-corporation/crs .

Transparency of the Regulatory System

Since 2006, the GoM has reformed trade, investment, tariffs, and income tax regulations to simplify the framework for doing business. Trade licenses and many other bureaucratic hurdles have been reduced or abolished. With a well-developed legal and commercial infrastructure and a tradition that combines entrepreneurship and representative democracy, Mauritius is one of Africa’s most successful economies. Business Mauritius, the coordinating body of the Mauritian private sector, participates in discussions with and presents papers to government authorities on laws and regulations affecting the private sector.

Regulatory agencies do not request comments on proposed bills from the general public. Both the notice of the introduction of a government bill and a copy of the bill are distributed to every member of the Legislative Assembly and published in the Government Gazette before enactment. Bills with a “certificate of urgency” can be enacted with summary process. All proposed regulations are published on the Legislative Assembly’s website, which is publicly accessible via the following link: http://mauritiusassembly.govmu.org/English/bills/Pages/default.aspx .

Companies in Mauritius are regulated by the Companies Act of 2001, which incorporates international best practices and promotes accountability, openness, and fairness. To combat corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing, the government also enacted the Prevention of Corruption Act, the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and the Financial Intelligence and Anti-Money Laundering Act. While Mauritius does not have a freedom of information act, members of the public may request information by contacting the permanent secretary of the relevant ministry.

International Regulatory Considerations

Mauritius is a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). It is a signatory to the Tripartite Free Trade Area and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), both of which remain under negotiation as of April 2018. The GoM implements its commitments to these regional economic institutions with domestic legal and regulatory adjustments, as appropriate.

Mauritius has been a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) since 1995. The GoM reports that they notify all draft technical regulations to the WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade to the extent possible. Mauritius was the fourth country to submit its instrument of acceptance regarding the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). It has notified the WTO of its category B and C measures and their corresponding indicative implementation dates.

Of TFA’s 36 measures, Mauritius has classified 25 as category A, five as B, and six as C. Discussions with donors to obtain technical assistance to finance trade facilitation projects listed under category C are ongoing and Mauritius has sought assistance from the World Bank.

To coordinate efforts to implement the TFA, in 2015 Mauritius set up a National Committee on Trade Facilitation co-chaired by representatives from government and the private sector. Members include Customs, the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, and the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Committee has met four times since. Discussion topics include identification of sources of financing for category C commitments and resolution of non-tariff barriers in Mauritius.

Legal System and Judicial Independence

The Mauritian legal system is a unique mixture of traditions. Mauritius draws legal principles from both French civil law and British common law traditions; its procedures are largely derived from the English system, while its substance is based in the Napoleonic Code of 1804. Commercial and contractual law is also based on the civil code. However, some specialized areas of law are comparable to other jurisdictions. For example, its company law is practically identical to that of New Zealand. Mauritian courts often resolve legal disputes by drawing on current legislation, the local legal tradition, and by means of a comparative approach utilizing various legal systems. The highest court of appeal is the judicial committee of the Privy Council of England. Mauritius is a member of the International Court of Justice. Mauritius established a Commercial Court in 2009 to expedite the settlement of commercial disputes.

Contracts are legally enforceable and binding. Ownership of property is enforced with the registration of the title deed with the Registrar-General and payment of the registration duty. Mauritian courts have jurisdiction to hear intellectual property (IP) claims, both civil and criminal. The judiciary is independent and the domestic legal system is generally non-discriminatory and transparent.

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

The Investment Promotion Act of 2000 and the Investment Promotion Act Amended (Section 29)/Finance Act of 2017 govern investment in Mauritius, while the Companies Act of 2001 contains the regulations governing incorporation of businesses. The Corporate and Business Registration Department (CBRD) of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development administers the Companies Act of 2001, the Business Registration Act of 2002, the Insolvency Act of 2009, the Limited Partnerships Act of 2011, and the Foundations Act of 2012. Information regarding the various acts can be accessed via the CBRD’s website: http://companies.govmu.org/English/Pages/default.aspx. 

The above-mentioned acts and all laws and regulations related to foreign investment can be downloaded from the EDB’s Investment Office website: http://www.investmauritius.com/downloads/legislations.aspx .

The Mauritian judiciary is independent and the legal system is generally non-discriminatory and transparent. The Embassy is not aware of any recent cases of government or other interference in the court system affecting foreign investors.

Competition and Anti-Trust Laws

The Competition Commission of Mauritius (CCM) is a statutory body established in 2009 to enforce Competition Act 2007. This act established a competition regime in Mauritius, under which the CCM can investigate possible anticompetitive behavior by businesses. The CCM has been vested with investigative powers to scrutinize all three core enforcement areas: cartels, mergers, and monopolies. CCM scrutiny can be applied to private legal entities and state-owned enterprises in certain industries.

Since it began operations, the CCM has undertaken 42 investigations, of which 30 have been completed and 12 are ongoing as of April 2018. The results of completed investigations are available on CCM’s website: http://www.ccm.mu/ 

Expropriation and Compensation

The Constitution includes a guarantee against nationalization. However, in April 2015, the government passed the Insurance (Amendment) Act to enable the Financial Services Commission (FSC) to appoint “special administrators” in cases where there is evidence that the liabilities of an insurer and its related companies exceed assets by 1 billion rupees (approximately USD 28 million) and that such a situation “is likely to jeopardize the stability and soundness of the financial system of Mauritius.” The special administrators are empowered to seize and sell assets. The government enacted this law in the immediate aftermath of the financial scandal explained below.

In April 2015, the Bank of Mauritius, the central bank, revoked the banking license of Bramer Bank, the banking arm of Mauritian conglomerate BAI Group, citing an inadequate capital reserve ratio. As a result, Bramer Bank entered receivership and by May 2015 the receiver had transferred the assets and liabilities of Bramer Bank to a newly created state-owned bank, the National Commercial Bank Ltd., thus effectively nationalizing Bramer Bank. In January 2016, the Mauritian government merged the National Commercial Bank Ltd. with another government-owned bank resulting in Maubank, a new bank dedicated mainly to servicing small- and medium-sized enterprises. (As of early 2018, Maubank was reportedly negotiating the sale of the majority of its shares to foreign investors.)

The government likewise took over much of Bramer’s parent, the BAI Group. The FSC placed the BAI Group in conservatorship, alleging fraud and corporate mismanagement in BAI’s insurance business. Following passage of the Insurance (Amendment) Act in April 2015, the FSC created the National Insurance Company, which took over the BAI Group’s core insurance business, and the National Property Fund, which took over other BAI Group assets, including a hospital and several retail outlets. CIEL Healthcare, a local private company, bought the hospital in January 2017.

In November 2015, BAI’s former chairman filed a dispute against the GoM with the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) alleging that the government illegally appropriated BAI’s assets. The dispute is ongoing.

Dispute Settlement

ICSID Convention and New York Convention

Mauritius is a member of the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes and a signatory to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards Act. Mauritius is also a member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency of the World Bank.

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

Mauritius does not have a Bilateral Investment Treaty or Free Trade Agreement with the United States. The Embassy is unaware of any investment dispute involving U.S. investors. However, as explained above, the former chairman of BAI has filed a dispute against the government of Mauritius with UNCITRAL alleging that the government illegally appropriated BAI’s assets and that dispute is ongoing.

In August 2017, the Supreme Court rendered a judgment in a major unfair competition case lodged in 2005 by Emtel Ltd., a local telecommunications firm, against Mauritius Telecom, a parastatal entity, and the former regulator Telecommunications Authority. The Court awarded over USD 16 million in damages to Emtel. A Malaysian power company is challenging the government’s decision to cancel a proposed energy project, which they had been negotiating with the previous government. The case remains in court.

Another dispute involves local company Betamax against the State Trading Corporation (STC) for breach of contract. In 2009, Betamax got a long-term contract with the previous government for the transportation of petroleum products from an oil refinery in India to Mauritius. The new government elected in December 2014 tried at first to negotiate Betamax out of the transportation contract on the ground that the contract had been awarded unlawfully. After negotiations failed, the government in early 2015 decided to rescind the contract. Betamax took the case to the Singapore International Arbitration Center (SIAC). In June 2017, SIAC decided in favor of Betamax and ordered the STC to pay approximately USD 133 million in damages to Betamax for breach of contract. In August 2017, STC requested the Supreme Court of Mauritius to set aside the verdict, arguing that the Singapore tribunal lacked jurisdiction. The Supreme Court ruled in a provisional order that SAIC’s judgment could be enforced within 14 days. STC challenged the provisional order. As of April 2018, the case is ongoing.

International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts

In July 2011, the GoM, the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), and the Mauritius International Arbitration Center (MIAC) established a new arbitration center in Mauritius called the LCIA-MIAC Arbitration Center. LCIA-MIAC offers all services offered by the LCIA in the United Kingdom. The organization’s website has additional information: http://www.lcia-miac.org/ .

In addition, the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Arbitration and Mediation Center (MARC) is an internationally recognized institution for commercial dispute settlement. MARC’s arbitration and mediation rules are also based on international standards, and it is a member of the International Federation of Commercial Arbitration Institutions. MARC has entered into cooperation agreements with arbitration centers in the United States (American Arbitration Association), Germany, France, Australia, India, and Kenya. More information is available via the following link: https://www.marc.mu/en .

Bankruptcy Regulations

Bankruptcy is not criminalized in Mauritius. The Insolvency Act of 2009 amended and consolidated the law relating to insolvency of individuals and companies and the distribution of assets in the case of insolvency and related matters. Most notably, the Act introduced administration procedures, providing creditors the option of a more orderly reorganization or restructuring of a business than in liquidation. A bankrupt individual is automatically discharged from bankruptcy three years after adjudication, but may apply to be discharged earlier. The Act draws on the Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency adopted by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law in 1997. The Act can be accessed through the EDB Investment Office’s website: http://www.investmauritius.com/downloads/legislations.aspx. According to the World Bank’s 2018 Doing Business report, Mauritius ranks 36th out of 190 countries in terms of resolving insolvency.

Investment Incentives

Mauritius applies investment incentives uniformly to both domestic and foreign investors. The incentives are outlined in the Income Tax Act, the Customs Act, and the Value Added Tax Act. In the 2017-2018 national budget, a number of incentives were implemented to attract investors to Mauritius. These include: (i) accelerated depreciation of 50 percent per year for capital expenditure incurred on research and development (R&D), (ii) double deduction for qualifying expenditure on R&D until 2022, (iii) a tax rate of three percent on profits from exports of goods, (iv) an eight year income tax holiday for companies engaged in manufacturing of pharmaceutical products, medical devices, and high-tech products, (v) a 40 percent rebate on freight costs on exports of certain products to European markets, (vi) a 40 percent rebate on qualifying production expenditures incurred by film producers and (vii) an eight year tax holiday on income derived from IP assets developed in Mauritius.

Mauritius offers prospective investors a low-tax jurisdiction and a number of other fiscal incentives, including the following: (i) flat corporate and income tax rate of 15 percent; (ii) 100 percent foreign ownership permitted; (iii) no minimum foreign capital required; (iv) no tax on dividends or capital gains; (v) free repatriation of profits, dividends, and capital; (vi) accelerated depreciation on acquisition of plant, machinery, and equipment; (vii) exemption from customs duty on imported equipment; and (viii) access to an extensive network of double taxation avoidance treaties.

Additionally, the government has established a Property Development Scheme (PDS) to attract high net worth non-citizens who want to acquire residences in Mauritius. The PDS is a follow-on program from the existing Integrated Resort Scheme (IRS) and the Real Estate Scheme (RES). Buyers of a residential unit valued over USD 500,000 in certain projects are eligible to apply for a residence permit in Mauritius. The residential unit can be leased or rented out by the owner. More details on the PDS and other investment schemes are available via the following link: http://www.investmauritius.com/schemes/pds.aspx .

The Regulatory Sandbox License (RSL), announced in the 2016-2017 national budget, is intended to promote innovation by eliminating barriers to investment in cutting-edge technology. An RSL gives an investor fast-track authorization to conduct business activity in a sector even if there is not yet a legal or regulatory framework in place for the sector. The RSL regulation was promulgated under the Investment Promotion Act in October 2016. Further details on the RSL can be accessed via the following link: http://www.investmauritius.com/schemes/rsl.aspx .

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

The Mauritius Freeport, a free trade zone, was established in 1992 and is a customs-free zone for goods destined for re-export. The Freeport has grown dramatically in its 25 year history: developed space has increased from 5,000 square meters in 1993 to 295,000 square meters in 2017. The government’s objective is to promote the country as a regional warehousing, distribution, marketing, and logistics center for eastern and southern Africa and the Indian Ocean rim. Through its membership in COMESA, SADC, and the IOC, Mauritius offers preferential access to a market of over 600 million consumers, representing an import potential of USD 100 billion. Companies operating in the Freeport are exempt from corporate tax. Foreign-owned firms operating in the Freeport have the same investment incentives and opportunities as local entities.

Activities carried out in the Freeport include warehousing and storage, breaking bulk, sorting, grading, cleaning and mixing, labeling, packing, repacking and repackaging, minor processing and light assembly, manufacturing activity, ship building, repairs and maintenance of ships and aircrafts, storage, maintenance and repairs of empty containers, export-oriented seaport and airport based activities, freight forwarding services, quality control and inspection services, and vault activity.

Today there are 230 active freeport operators and three private freeport developers operating on declared Freeport areas near the port and airport, employing around 3,650 persons. An additional 33 companies currently conduct value-added activities such as minor processing, light assembly, and manufacturing, employing over 600 persons.

Trade through the Freeport has increased in recent years. In 2013, trade was valued at 23 billion rupees (approximately USD 730 million at 2013 exchange rates) and volume was recorded at 347,000 tons of goods; in 2017 trade value increased to 38.1 billion rupees (approximately USD 1.1 billion) and volume increased to 542,000 tons. Top trading partners to/from Mauritius in 2017 included Singapore, Reunion (France), China, Madagascar, Taiwan, the United States, and South Africa. Top goods traded through the Freeport include liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), sugar, fish, ethanol, plastic preform, footwear, soap and detergents, noodles, beer, and soft drinks.

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

The GoM does not impose local employment requirements on foreign investors. A foreign national can apply for an Occupation Permit (OP), which is a combined work and residence permit, subject to certain conditions such as minimum investment, salary, and/or business turnover. The OP allows foreign nationals to work and reside in Mauritius under three specific categories, namely: (i) investor, (ii) professional, or (iii) self-employed. Also, foreign nationals, above the age of 50 years, may choose to retire in Mauritius under a Residence Permit (RP). An OP or an RP is issued for a maximum period of three years and the permit holder may submit a new application upon expiry of the permit. Dependents of an OP or RP holder may also apply for residence permits for a duration not exceeding that of the OP or RP holder. Details on the minimum investment, salary, and turnover amounts required to qualify for an OP or RP are available via the following link: http://www.investmauritius.com/faqs/occupation-permit.aspx .

The Data Protection Act (DPA) is the law that governs the protection of personal data in Mauritius. The Government of Mauritius established the Data Protection Office (http://dataprotection.govmu.org/English/Pages/default.aspx ) in 2009. The Data Protection Commissioner is responsible for upholding the rights of individuals set forth in the DPA and for enforcing the obligations imposed upon data controllers. In June 2016, Mauritius ratified Convention 108 of the European Union on data protection, becoming the second non-European country to sign the convention. This agreement gives individuals the right to protection of their personal data. For situations where personal data is transferred abroad, provisions of the DPA ensure safeguards will be in place to protect the data.

The DPA does not apply when no personal data is processed; thus, if a source code does not contain personal data, the DPA will not apply. Processing of personal data should be carried out in strict compliance with Section 28 of the DPA, which establishes the only lawful purposes for which personal data may be processed. Failure to comply with Section 28 can result in a fine and up to five years imprisonment. Section 29 of the DPA sets forth requirements when processing special categories of data, such as ethnic origin, political adherence, and mental health condition.

Effective January 15, 2018, the Data Protection Act was replaced by new and improved legislation known as Data Protection Act 2017. The new DPA strengthens the control and personal autonomy of data subjects over their personal data as part of a broader effort to ensure individuals’ right to privacy. This emphasis on privacy and the rights of data subjects tracks closely with the European Union’s Regulation on the Protection of Natural Persons with regards to the Processing of Personal Data and on the Free Movement of such Data, commonly known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

There are no enforcement procedures for investment performance requirements.

Real Property

Real property rights are respected in Mauritius. A non-citizen can hold, purchase, or acquire immovable property under the Non-Citizens (Property Restriction) Act, subject to the government’s approval. Ownership of property is memorialized with the registration of the title deed with the Registrar-General and payment of the registration duty. The recording system of mortgages and liens is reliable. Traditional use rights are not an issue in Mauritius as there were no indigenous peoples present at the time of European colonization. According to the World Bank’s 2018 Doing Business Report, Mauritius ranks 35th out of 190 countries for the ease of registering property.

Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual property rights (IPR) in Mauritius are protected by two pieces of legislation, namely the Patents, Industrial Designs and Trade Marks Act of 2002 and the Copyrights Act of 2014. The government plans to adopt a new Industrial Property Bill expanding protections and covering all aspects of industrial property. In addition to patents, trademarks, and industrial designs, the Bill is intended to protect plant breeders’ rights, geographical indications, and layout designs of integrated circuits and utility models, which are not covered by existing legislation. In his 2016-17 Budget Speech, the Minister of Finance announced that the government would adhere to the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the Hague Convention, and the Madrid Protocol to facilitate the registration of patents, trademarks, and industrial designs. The new bill includes provisions that would incorporate international standards such as those articulated in the Madrid Protocol into Mauritian law.

In November 2017, the Copyright Act was amended to redefine and better safeguard the interest of copyright owners and to put in place a new regulatory framework for the Mauritius Society of Authors (MASA). MASA is responsible for collection of copyright fees and for administering the economic rights of copyright owners. Amendments to the Copyright Act can be accessed on the Supreme Court website: https://supremecourt.govmu.org/SitePages/HomePage.aspx 

Mauritius is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and party to the Paris and Bern Conventions for the protection of industrial property and the Universal Copyright Convention. Trademark and patent laws comply with the WTO’s Trade Related Aspects of Industrial Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement. A trademark is initially registered for 10 years and may be renewed for successive periods of 10 years. A patent is granted for 20 years and cannot be renewed. While IP legislation in Mauritius is consistent with international norms, enforcement is relatively weak. According to a leading IPR law firm, police will normally only take action against IPR infringements in cases where the IPR owner has an official representative in Mauritius because the courts require a representative to testify that the products seized are counterfeit.

The Customs Department requires owners or authorized users of patents, industrial designs, collective marks, marks or copyrights to apply in writing to the Director General to suspend clearance of any suspicious goods. Once an application is approved, it remains valid for two years. Further details on the documents required to apply can be obtained on this link: http://www.mra.mu/index.php/import-export-others/ipr .

Customs may act upon its own initiative to suspend clearance if there is evidence that IP rights are being infringed. Customs will then contact the owner or authorized user for follow up actions. Owners of IP rights are recommended to join the Interface Public Members (IPM: http://www.wcoipm.org/ ) which allows Customs officers to access operational data input by right owners concerning their products, thus facilitating the identification of counterfeit goods.

The Customs Department keeps a record of counterfeit goods seized. Customs has authority to seize and destroy counterfeit goods. In 2017, the Customs Department carried out 93 seizures of a total of 15,147 goods valued at USD 29,421. The infringing party is responsible for paying for the storage and/or destruction of the counterfeit goods. Mauritius is not listed in the U.S. Trade Representative’s Special 301 report or on the Notorious Market List.

For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/ .

Embassy Contact for IPR

Paul Stempel or Shariff Jathoonia
Economic/Commercial Section
U.S. Embassy Port Louis, Mauritius
Tel: +230 202 4464; Fax: +230 208 9534
Email: jathoonisx@state.gov or stempelpa@state.gov

Some IPR Law Firms in Mauritius*

Sanjeev Ghurburrun
Director, Geroudis
River Court, St Denis Street
Port Louis, Mauritius
Tel: +230 210 3838; Fax: + 230 210 3912
Email: sanjeev@geroudis.com
www.geroudis.com 

Marc Hein
Chairman, Juristconsult Chambers
Level 12 Nexteracom Tower II, Ebene Cyber City
Ebene, Mauritius
Tel: +230 465 0020; Fax: +230 465 0021
Email: mhein@juristconsult.com
www.juristconsult.com 

Michael Hough
CEO, Eversheds Sutherland
Suite 310, 3rd Floor Barkly Wharf, Le Caudan Waterfront
Port Louis, Mauritius
Tel: +230 5726 3941; fax: +230 211 0780
Email: michaelhough@eversheds-sutherland.mu
www.eversheds-sutherland.com 

*Law firms listed for convenience and should not be taken to imply U.S. Government endorsement.

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

The GoM welcomes foreign portfolio investment. The Stock Exchange of Mauritius (SEM) was opened to foreign investors following the lifting of foreign exchange controls in 1994. Foreign investors do not need approval to trade shares, except for when doing so would result in their holding more than 15 percent in a sugar company, a rule detailed in the Securities (Investment by Foreign Investors) Rules 2013. Incentives to foreign investors include free repatriation of revenue from the sale of shares and exemption from tax on dividends and capital gains.

The SEM currently operates two markets: the Official Market and the Development & Enterprise Market (DEM). As of December 2017, the shares of 57 companies (local, global business and foreign companies) were listed on the Official Market, representing a market capitalization of USD 10 billion. Unique in Africa, the SEM can list, trade, and settle equity and debt products in U.S. dollars, Euros, Pounds Sterling, South African Rand, as well as Mauritian Rupees. The DEM was launched in August 2006 and the shares of 40 companies are currently listed on this market with a market capitalization of nearly USD 1.5 billion. Foreign investors accounted for 39 percent of trading volume on the exchange in 2017. Standard & Poor’s, Morgan Stanley, Dow Jones, and FTSE have included the Mauritius stock market in a number of their stock indices. Since 2005, the SEM has been a member of the World Federation of Exchanges. SEM is also a partner exchange of the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative.

The government respects IMF Article VIII by refraining from restrictions on payments and transfers for current international transactions. A variety of credit instruments is available to local and foreign investors through the banking system.

Money and Banking System

Mauritius has a sophisticated banking sector. As of February 2018, 21 banks are licensed to undertake banking business. Eleven are international banks. One conducts Islamic banking exclusively. According to data from the Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion, 82 percent of Mauritians aged 15 and above have a bank account.

According to the Banking Act of 2004, all banks are free to conduct business in all currencies. There are also eight non-bank deposit-taking institutions, as well as several moneychangers and foreign exchange dealers. There are no official government restrictions on foreigners opening bank accounts in Mauritius, but some banks may require letters of reference or proof of residence for their due diligence. The Bank of Mauritius, the country’s central bank, carries out the supervision and regulation of banks as well as non-bank financial institutions authorized to accept deposits. The Bank of Mauritius has endorsed the Core Principles for Effective Banking Supervision as set out by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision.

The banking system is dominated by two, long-established domestic groups: the Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB) and the State Bank of Mauritius (SBM), which together constitute about 60 percent of the total domestic market. Maubank, the third largest bank in the country, became operational in January 2016 following a merger between the Mauritius Post & Cooperative Bank and the National Commercial Bank. The Bank of China started operations in Mauritius in September 2016. Other foreign banks present in Mauritius include HSBC, Barclays Bank, Bank of Baroda, Habib Bank, Banque des Mascareignes, Deutsche Bank, Standard Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, State Bank of India, and Investec Bank. As of February 2018, commercial banks’ total assets amounted to USD 36.7 billion.

According to the Bank of Mauritius 2017 Annual Report, the domestic financial system in Mauritius remains resilient. Banks continue to remain profitable, liquid and well-capitalized. Asset quality of banks has improved with a decline in the amount of non-performing loans. This was reflected in the non-performing loans to total loans ratio, which fell from 7.1 percent as of June 2016 to 7.0 percent as of June 2017. In July 2017, the Banking Act was amended to increase the minimum capital requirement from 200 million to 400 million Mauritian rupees. Banks have to implement this provision by June 30, 2019.

Most major banks in Mauritius have correspondent banking relationships with large banks overseas. In recent years, according to industry experts, no banks have lost correspondent banking relationships and none report being in jeopardy of doing so as of April 2018.

In November 2017, the First Deputy Governor of the Bank of Mauritius announced that the bank had established internal and inter-bank committees on fintech and distributed ledger technologies. The committees are tasked with studying opportunities related to fintech and proposing an innovation-friendly regulatory framework. The Mauritius Blockchain Center of Excellence was set up in January 2018 by several large financial companies with the following mission: block chain education, community building, and development of practical applications to solve real world problems. The Center is targeting two sectors in Mauritius for blockchain: trade finance (which will include shipping) and the financial sector (banking).

In February 2018, the Fintech and Innovation-driven Financial Services (FIFS) Regulatory Committee held its first meeting at the Financial Services Commission (FSC – the regulator for the non-bank financial services sector) to assess the current regulatory set up with respect to FIFS Regulations in Mauritius, and to identify priority areas within the regulatory space of fintech activities. According to the 2017-2018 budget speech, the FSC will take the lead on regulating fintech activities such as peer-to-peer lending and mobile wallets.

Foreign Exchange and Remittances

Foreign Exchange Policies

The government of Mauritius abolished foreign exchange controls in 1994. Consequently, no approval is required for converting, transferring, or repatriating profits, dividends, or capital gains earned by a foreign investor in Mauritius. Funds associated with any form of investment can be freely converted into any world currency.

The exchange rate is generally market-determined, though the Bank of Mauritius, the central bank, occasionally intervenes. Between the end of February 2017 and the end of February 2018, the Mauritian Rupee appreciated against the U.S. Dollar and British Pound Sterling by 4.2 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively, but depreciated against the Euro by 0.4 percent.

Policy by the GoM is generally consistent with best practices recommended by leading institutions like the OECD and IMF. In August 2017, the OECD Global Forum rated Mauritius as a “compliant” jurisdiction on transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes. In December 2013, Mauritius signed a Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) and an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) with the United States to implement the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).

Remittance Policies

There are no time or quantity limits on remittance of capital, profits, dividends, and capital gains earned by a foreign investor in Mauritius. Mauritius has a well-developed and modern banking system. There is no legal parallel market in Mauritius for investment remittances. The Embassy is unaware of any proposed changes by the government to its investment remittance policies.

Sovereign Wealth Funds

The government of Mauritius does not have a Sovereign Wealth Fund.

The government’s stated policy is to act as a facilitator to business, leaving production to the private sector. The government, however, still controls key services directly or through parastatal companies in the power and water, television broadcasting, and postal service sectors.

The government holds controlling shares in the State Bank of Mauritius, Air Mauritius (the national airline), and Mauritius Telecom. These state-controlled companies have Boards of Directors on which seats are allocated to senior government officials. The government nominates the chairperson and CEO of each of these companies.

The government also invests in a wide variety of Mauritian businesses through its investment arm, the State Investment Corporation. The government is also the owner of Maubank Ltd and the National Insurance Company – two companies that resulted from the collapse of the British American Investment (BAI) conglomerate in 2015.

Two parastatal entities are involved in the importation of agricultural products: the Agricultural Marketing Board (AMB) and the State Trading Corporation (STC). The AMB’s role is to ensure that the supply of certain basic food products is constant and their prices remain affordable. The STC is the only authorized importer of petroleum products, liquefied petroleum gas, and flour. SOEs purchase from or supply goods and services to private sector and foreign firms through tenders.

Audited accounts of SOEs are published in their annual reports. Mauritius is part of the OECD network on corporate governance of state-owned enterprises in southern Africa.

Privatization Program

The government has no specific privatization program. In 2017, however, as part of its broader water reform efforts, the government agreed to a World Bank recommendation to appoint a private operator to maintain and operate the country’s potable water distribution system. Under the World Bank’s proposed public-private partnership, the Central Water Authority (CWA) would continue to own distribution and supply assets and will be responsible for business planning, setting tariffs, capital expenditure, and monitoring and enforcing the private operator’s performance. In March 2018, despite protest by trade unions and consumer associations, the Minister of Energy and Public Utilities reiterated his intention to engage by the end of the year a private operator as a strategic partner to take over the water distribution services of the CWA.

The National Committee for Corporate Governance (NCCG) was established under Section 63 of the Financial Reporting Act (2004) and is the coordinating body responsible for all matters pertaining to corporate governance in Mauritius. The purpose of the Committee is to: (a) establish principles and practices of corporate governance; (b) promote the highest standards of corporate governance; (c) promote public awareness about corporate governance principles and practices; and (d) act as the national coordinating body responsible for all matters pertaining to corporate governance. The latest Code of Corporate Governance for Mauritius (2016) was launched on February 13, 2017, and can be accessed here: http://www.miod.mu/info-centre/new-code-of-corporate-governance-for-mauritius-2016 . The Financial Reporting Council (FRC), also set up under the Financial Reporting Act (2004), aims to advocate for the provision of high-quality reporting of financial and non-financial information by public interest entities and to improve the quality of accountancy and audit service.

The Ministry of Financial Services, Good Governance and Institutional Reforms was established following the December 2014 elections. This Ministry’s stated intent is to provide guidance and support for enforcement of good governance and the eradication of corruption. The Mauritius Institute of Directors (MIoD) is an independent private sector-led organization that also promotes high standards and best practices of corporate governance, with additional information available on its website http://www.miod.mu/.

In 2017 the government set up a National Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Foundation, which operates under the aegis of the Ministry of Social Integration and Economic Empowerment. The National CSR Foundation is managed by a Council consisting of members from the private and public sectors, civil society, and academia. Under the Finance Act of 2016, each year every company is expected to set up a CSR Fund equivalent to two per cent of its chargeable income of the preceding year. In 2017 and 2018, companies are required to remit at least 50 percent of their CSR Funds to the tax authorities for the benefit of the National CSR Foundation. Thereafter the contribution will increase to 75 percent. The National CSR Foundation will then channel the money to NGO projects falling under priority areas identified by the government. These priority areas are poverty alleviation, educational support, social housing, family protection, people with severe disabilities, and victims of substance abuse.

The prevalence of corruption in Mauritius is low by regional standards, but graft and nepotism nevertheless remain concerns and are increasingly a source of public frustration. Several high profile cases involving corruption have dominated recent news, reinforcing the perception that corruption exists at the highest political levels. A former prime minister was arrested in 2015 on allegations of money laundering while a minister of the current government had to step down in 2016 on allegations of bribery. In March 2017, allegations surfaced in the press concerning possible political interference in the Financial Services Commission’s issuance of an investment banking license to Angolan billionaire Alvaro Sobrinho, who is being investigated for alleged corruption in Portugal. In March 2018, the President of Mauritius resigned after press reported that she bought apparel and jewelry with a credit card provided by an NGO financed by the same Angolan businessman.

Investors should know that while the constitution and law require arrest warrants to be based on sufficient evidence and issued by a magistrate, police may detain an individual for up to 21 days under a “provisional charge” based on a reasonable suspicion, with the concurrence of a magistrate. Two French businessmen have claimed that in February 2015 authorities held them against their will.

In 2002, the government adopted the Prevention of Corruption Act, which led to the establishment of an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). ICAC has the power to investigate corruption and money laundering offenses and can also seize the proceeds of corruption and money laundering. The Director of ICAC is nominated by the Prime Minister. The Good Governance and Integrity Reporting Act of 2015 was announced as a measure to recover “unexplained wealth” and came into force in early 2016. Critics of the act dislike its presumption of guilt, requiring the accused to demonstrate a lawful source of questionable assets, as well as the application of the law retroactively for seven years.

Mauritius is the 54th least corrupt nation out of 175 countries, according to the 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International, down for the second consecutive year from 45th in 2015 and 50th in 2016. However, Mauritius retains its first rank in overall governance in Africa for the eleventh consecutive year, according to the 2017 Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance.

Although Mauritius’ generally positive reputation for transparency and accountability has been hurt by some high-profile scandals, U.S. investors, in conversations with Embassy personnel, have not identified corruption as an obstacle to investment in the country.

Resources to Report Corruption

Contact at government agency or agencies are responsible for combating corruption:

Navin Beekharry
Director-General
Independent Commission Against Corruption
Reduit Triangle, Moka, Mauritius
+230 402 6600
icacoffice@intnet.mu

Contact at “watchdog” organization:
Rajen Bablee
Director
Transparency Mauritius
4th Floor, FonSing Building, 12 Edith Cavell Street, Port Louis, Mauritius
+ 230 213 0796
transparency.mauritius@gmail.com

Mauritius has a long tradition of political and social stability. Civil unrest and political violence are uncommon. Inter-ethnic tensions, however, led to four days of rioting in February 1999, following the death in police custody of a popular singer from the Creole-Mauritian community. Governments since then have sought to calm ethnic tensions and stress national unity. Free and fair national elections are held every five years with the last general elections held in December 2014. Those most recent elections took place without incident. In January 2017, the former Prime Minister stepped down and his son, whom he had appointed Minister of Finance, replaced him as Prime Minister in accordance with the Constitution.

Crime, both petty and violent, can occur. Visitors should keep track of their belongings at all times due to the potential for pick pocketing and purse snatching, especially in crowded and tourist areas. Visitors should also avoid walking alone, particularly on isolated beaches and at night and should avoid demonstrations.

According to Statistics Mauritius, total employment stood at 545,100 in 2017, up from 538,600 in 2016. The unemployment rate decreased from 7.3 percent in 2016 to 7.1 percent in 2017, with a high concentration of joblessness among youth and women. The youth unemployment rate was 21 percent. The 41,800 unemployed people included 41 percent male and 59 percent female. In early 2018, the labor force in Mauritius included 41,087 foreign workers, mainly from Bangladesh, India, Madagascar, China, and Sri Lanka. Most are employed in textile factories, but some are in construction, tuna canning, goods delivery, bakeries, and the hotel and catering sectors.

According to the Central Bank, the labor market remains under the grip of structural rigidities with rising unemployed graduates and low-skilled workers as well as a high number of female unemployed. It is further characterized by persistent mismatch between qualifications of the unemployed and the skills required in an increasingly services-oriented economy. Government labor market programs aimed at building human capital have been extended, with policies to develop skills of the unemployed focusing on apprenticeships and placements. The 2017-18 national budget maintained the National Skills Development Program for another year, broadened and relaxed foreign labor regulation, and upgraded educational hardware and infrastructure in polytechnic schools. The newly established polytechnics are expected to better connect the world of learning with the world of work, especially in the fields of tourism, information and communication technology, nursing, and paramedics.

In October 2017, the National Assembly passed the National Employment Act. The object of the Act was to repeal the Employment and Training Act and enact a more modern legislative framework in order to address the needs of the labor market. It will provide labor market information on supply and demand of skills to local employers, job seekers and training institutions; promote placement and training of job seekers, including young persons and persons with disabilities; and promote labor migration and home-based work.

Effective January 2018, the government introduced a minimum wage of 9,000 Mauritian Rupees (approximately USD 255) per month for all workers in the country. This is expected to impact the salaries of over 100,000 low-pay workers.

The Employment Rights Act and the Employment Relations Act came into force in February 2009 with the main objectives of revising and consolidating existing labor and industrial relations laws, liberalizing the labor market, and enhancing the effectiveness of collective bargaining. The legislation also provided for the introduction of a Workfare Program under which laid-off workers benefit from government financial assistance for up to twelve months and have opportunities for training to increase their employability.

Trade unions are independent of government and employers. Mauritius has an active trade union movement, representing about 25 percent of the workforce, and labor-management relations are generally positive. The last major strike affecting the economy took place in 1979. The government generally seeks to avoid strikes through a system that promotes settlement through negotiation or arbitration by the Employment Relations Tribunal and the National Remuneration Board.

Workers’ rights are protected under the Employment Rights Act 2008. Mauritius participates actively in the annual International Labor Organization (ILO) conference in Geneva, Switzerland and adheres to ILO core conventions protecting workers’ rights.

Mauritius is eligible for the full range of OPIC investment insurance programs, and OPIC currently has an investment incentive agreement with Mauritius. Mauritius is also a member of the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency. Countries with significant government-financed investment in Mauritius include India, France, and China.

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy

Host Country Statistical Source USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD; Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (M USD) 2016 USD 11,949 2016 USD 12,168 www.worldbank.org/en/country 
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical Source USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country (M USD, stock positions) NA 2016 USD 53,958 http://data.imf.org/CDIS 
Host country’s FDI in the United States (M USD, stock positions) NA 2016 USD 339 http://data.imf.org/CDIS 
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP NA 2016 38.5% http://unctad.org/en/Pages/DIAE/World%20
Investment%20Report/Country-Fact-Sheets.aspx
 

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI

Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data (2016)
From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)
Inward Direct Investment Outward Direct Investment
Total Inward USD 282,969 100% Total Outward USD 234,288 100%
United States USD 53,958 19% India USD 101,688 43%
Cayman Islands USD 41,496 15% Singapore USD 21,086 9%
Singapore USD 21,775 8% China, P.R. USD 7,248 3%
India USD 20,876 7% Cayman Islands USD 6,898 3%
United Kingdom USD 17,666 6% South Africa USD 6,723 3%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

Source: National Accounts 2016, Statistics Mauritius, http://statsmauritius.govmu.org/English/StatsbySubj/Pages/National-Accounts.aspx 

Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment

Portfolio Investment Assets (June 2017)
Top Five Partners (Millions, US Dollars)
Total Equity Securities Total Debt Securities
All Countries USD 122,705 100% All Countries USD 111,972 100% All Countries USD 10,733 100%
India USD 94,186 77% India USD 88,768 79% India USD 5,418 50%
Hong Kong USD 5,449 4% Hong Kong USD 5,176 5% United States USD 1,396 13%
Singapore USD 3,283 3% Singapore USD 3,151 3% Not Specified USD 1,163 11%
United States USD 3,214 3% Cayman Islands USD 2,099 2% United Kingdom USD 745 7%
Cayman Islands USD 2,117 2% United States USD 1,819 2% Hong Kong USD 273 3%

Paul Stempel
Economic Officer
+230 202-4465
StempelPA@state.gov

2018 Investment Climate Statements: Mauritius
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