Trade Performance Review 2007: Chapter 4: Mauritius

Year of publication: 
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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