Mauritius Trade Performance Reviews (TPR)

Trade Performance Review 2007: Chapter 4: Mauritius

Year of publication: 
2007
Author(s): 
Sawkut Rojid, independent researcher
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Mauritius is at a crossroads. While the trade preferences granted by developed countries have permitted Mauritius to become a successful economy and represent a model for African economies, these same preferences have also resulted in the island's concentration of its exports in a few sectors - sugar and textiles - which are being brought under multilateral trade principles. While the impact of the MFA phase-out has already been felt and the economy is still recovering from its negative consequences, it is not yet fully hit by the gradual fall in sugar prices. However, government, together with the private sector, has initiated plans to restructure the sector. In addition, Mauritius is diversifying more towards the services sector (financial services and tourism).

In terms of the country's trade with the region, both imports from and exports to SADC are marginal compared to exports to the EU and the US, except for South Africa, which is a large trading partner in the region. This phenomenon is explained by the preferential trading arrangements that exist with these respective trade blocs.
 
However, given that global trading rules are continuously changing towards more WTO-oriented rules, and in particular trade without discrimination, Mauritius is facing a reduction in the preferences from developed countries. In light of this, Mauritius is proactively working towards exploiting new markets in the SADC region; Enterprise Mauritius in particular has been very active in promoting exports to the SADC and COMESA regions.
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Intra-SADC Trade Performance Review 2006: Chapter 3: Mauritius

Year of publication: 
2006
Author(s): 
Sawkut Rojid, University of Mauritius
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Mauritius continued to diversify its exports during the period under review. Significantly, though, the fastest growing exports to the world were not its major export products. Of concern was the fact that out of the top five fastest growing exports to the world, Mauritius had a revealed comparative disadvantage in three categories - H39, H34 and H42. The clothing sector, which was traditionally one of its leading export revenue earners, was not among its list of 20 fastest growing export commodities even though, up until the late 1990s, it was Mauritius’s boom sector. The decline of this sector was attributable to the phasing out of the MFA.

Mauritius has long depended on the preferential status granted to it by developed nations for it to export certain products to developed countries’ markets, particularly those in the EU and the US. With the phasing out of the MFA, the Mauritian government was pushed into adopting a more proactive and aggressive trade policy. Still, sugar and wearing apparel were, for the period under review, Mauritius’s two main exports.

On a positive note, whilst the economy is known to be driven by mainly tourism, as well as exports of sugar and textiles, the inflows experienced in the services sector, in particular the banking and ICT sub-sectors, seems to be evidence that Mauritius is able to successfully diversify the types of investment attracted.

Trade Performance Review 2005: Mauritius

Year of publication: 
2005
Author(s): 
Sawkut Rojid
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The overall trade balance for Mauritius, as shown in Table 1, has been negative throughout the period 1999 and 2003, with the highest trade deficit registered in the last year under study. During this year, the total value of exported goods showed an increase, although the main exporting sectors recorded poor performances. Due to persisting difficulties in the clothing sector, the EPZ sector showed a drop in exports by 3.8 %. Exports of sugar also dropped, by around 0.9 % in 2003.

The difficulties in the clothing sector were due to the closure of a number of foreign-owned firms and jobs losses. This is because the MFA quotas were to be completely phased out on Jan 1st 2005. Foreign investors, especially from Hong Kong, who in the 1980s located or relocated their clothing firms to Mauritius to circumvent MFA quotas, have started relocating their firms to Madagascar, Hong Kong and China. During the period March 1999 to March 2003, the number of firms in the wearing apparel sector fell from 357 to 313 and the number of employees in that sector fell from 75,699 to 68,344. The drop in sugar exports was due to a drop in sugar production following the passage of cyclone Gerry in Feb 2003 and to the excessive rainfall registered during the first 6 months of the year. However in the year 2003, the increase in merchandise imports more than offset the increase in merchandise exports causing a more pronounced trade deficit. The increased price of oil and the purchase of an aircraft were the main factors showing an increase in imports in that year.

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