ECA

Mauritius: (Is)land of opportunities

27.04.2021 Dr Kate O'shaughnessy

Mauritius, a small island developing state with a population of 1.3 million, is probably best known as a tourist destination. Pre-COVID, the country welcomed over a million visitors annually, and was a promising market for Australian premium food and beverage exports.

But in a COVID world, where travel for leisure is off the cards for some time to come, what prospects does this Indian Ocean island offer for Australian businesses?

The opportunities are two-fold: in Mauritius itself, and beyond into Africa and India.

With its stable democracy, independent legal system and capable workforce (predominantly bilingual English and French speaking), Mauritius offers a trusted platform for doing business in the region. It ranked 13th globally and first in Africa in the World Bank’s 2020 Ease of Doing Business report.

It also has a global network of investment protection and double taxation treaties (22 in Africa) and is a leading source of FDI to India. More than 150 Australian companies are registered in the country.

Promising areas for collaboration include education and professional services, the blue economy, renewable energy, and agribusiness. The latter two sectors will only grow in importance over the next decade, as the country seeks to transition to a low-carbon economy, and improve food self sufficiency.

Australian education services have a solid foothold in Mauritius. Curtin University established a branch campus on the island in 2018. La Trobe University, as well as Western Australia’s North and South Metro TAFEs all have partnerships in place with local institutions. And they aren’t just targeting the local student market. Instead, they are seeking to attract students from across Africa.

There’s a strong appetite on the island for Australian innovation, actively supported by the Mauritian government through grant matching schemes. These schemes have seen the University of Western Australia partner with local hotel giant Sun Resorts to combat coastal erosion, and Queensland University of Technology work with leading local corporate, Omnicane Ltd to convert sugar cane trash into biodegradable plastic, to name a couple of recent examples.

Mauritius is also positioning itself as a fintech hub through the Mauritius Africa Fintech Hub (MAFH), launched in October 2018. This helped introduce the Mauritius Regulatory Sandbox Licence (RSL) to cater for innovative fintech projects. The OECD in partnership with the Financial Services Commission launched its Regional Centre of Excellence for Africa in Mauritius in 2019.

Mauritius currently offers one-year visas to encourage business travellers. If you’re interested in finding out more about doing business with Mauritius, take a look at these resources:


 

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