Current business situation
Mauritius has successfully diversified its activities from being a low-income, monocrop economy to one supported by more pillars, with an increased emphasis on innovation and services (agri-business, tourism, education, ICT, Freeport and logistics, creative industries, renewable energies, etc). It hosts a buoyant financial services platform.
The island has overcome its inherent lack of natural resources by adopting the path of diversification, leveraging its other assets. Part of the strategy has been to focus on the development of its offshore centre and on the use of its growing network of Double Taxation Agreements.
The expanding network of Double Taxation Treaties (DTA) and Investment Promotion Protection Agreements (IPPA), reinforces the seriousness of Mauritius as a tax efficient offshore jurisdiction for structuring investment, especially in this region of increasing growth.
Many multinational corporations use Mauritius to route their investments into growth regions such as India, China and Africa. The various tax treaty benefits are aimed to attract investors wishing to minimise their costs when repatriating income from their investment. Mauritius has been ranked as the top investor in India for a number of years now.
The IPPAs signed with Africa confers the advantage of offering full protection of foreign investments in Africa. Mauritius is deploying considerable efforts to position itself as a secure platform for investment into Africa and as a global business hub.
No agreements exist with Australia, other than a Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) signed in December 2010.
The bilingual, young population of Mauritius and literate workforce offer good prospects for developing business further and offers increasing areas of opportunity.
Mauritius is part of a number of regional blocks (Southern African Development Community (SADC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC), Indian Ocean Commission (IOC)) that enable access, at preferential rates in many cases, to a significantly bigger market than the island on its own. As an example, through its membership of the SADC and COMESA, Mauritius could offer preferential access to a market of 425 million consumers of Eastern and Southern Africa, representing an import potential of US$100 billion.
Mauritians are more formal than Australians, especially in the public sector. First names should be avoided unless you have corresponded in the past. Handshakes are freely used and are the standard form of greeting, although in certain orthodox circles this may not be practised with women.
Titles can be generally disregarded without offence, but it is preferable to use them (in abbreviated form) in correspondence. Where someone has more than one name (eg. Peter Chan Sui Ko), he is usually addressed as Mr Chan Sui Ko or Mr Chan.
Exchanging business cards is common practice, therefore have plenty with you.
Exchanging gifts is not normally practised in business; however, corporate gifts may be exchanged at Christmas time.
Mauritians prefer to be provided with brochures and CIF price lists.
Be punctual for a meeting although it may happen that your client/contact is some minutes late. If you are running late, however, do advise that you will be late for your meeting.
Dinners and lunches with local representatives and customers help develop networks.
Formal business attire is generally recommended for business meetings.
Government purchases over a set threshold value are undertaken through the Central Procurement Board and this process can be lengthy at times. In the case of the business community (private/corporate) this is not the case as they are free to shop around for the best deal.
Setting up in Mauritius
Mauritius offers a business-friendly environment and the Mauritius Board of Investment has a special counter to assist companies looking at establishing themselves in the country.
Before setting up in Mauritius you should consider:
- All businesses must be registered with the Companies Division. This can be done online: www.eregulations.mu.
- Occupation permits are required to enable non-nationals to work and live in Mauritius. This acts as a work and residence permit.
- A number of serviced offices are available for hire in the main business areas – Port Louis, Cybercity and other new and upcoming regions like Moka.
- A number of Real Estate agents are able to assist with identification of suitable premises.
- The island has a very well developed electricity and telephone network, and internet connectivity is good
- Depending on your area of activity, you could also consider establishing partnerships with existing counterparts as opposed to setting up your own offices.
Banking and finance
The Mauritian financial system comprises an array of institutions including well-established commercial banks, insurance companies and a number of non-bank financial intermediaries.
The Mauritian banking sector comprises 21 banks – 6 local banks, 10 foreign-owned subsidiaries, 1 is a joint venture and 4 are branches of foreign banks – licensed by the Bank of Mauritius to carry out banking business in Mauritius. Internationally active banks from some of the world’s largest and most reputable international banking groups are present in Mauritius.
Besides traditional banking facilities, banks also offer card-based payment services such as credit and debit cards, provide Internet banking and phone-banking facilities. Services such as fund administration, custodial services, trusteeship, international portfolio management, investment banking, private client activities, treasury and specialised finance are also offered by banks.
Some banks specialise in corporate and investment banking and are mainly engaged in global business and financial activities. Most reputable international banks are present in Mauritius and actively carry out international cross border activities.
The non-bank financial sector includes institutions involved in insurance and pensions, capital market operations, leasing and credit finance as well as global business activities.
Links and resources
Government, business and trade
Bank of Mauritius – www.bom.mu
Board of Investment – www.investmauritius.com
Central Statistics Office – www.gov.mu/portal/site/cso
Financial Services Commission – www.fscmauritius.org
Government of Mauritius – www.gov.mu
Mauritius Chamber of Commerce & Industry – www.mcci.org
Mauritius Freeport Portal – www.efreeport.com
Ministry of Finance & Economic Development – www.gov.mu/portal/site/MOFSite
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Cooperation – www.gov.mu/portal/site/mfasite
Public Procurement Portal – www.gov.mu/portal/sites/eprocurement/index.jsp
The Stock Exchange of Mauritius – www.stockexchangeofmauritius.com
News and media
There are several daily newspapers on the island (mainly in French). A list of publications and access to online periodicals are available. A select few are in English, but are unfortunately not available on the Internet. Local dailies are:
Le Mauricien – www.lemauricien.com
L'Express – www.lexpress.mu
Le Matinal – www.lematinal.com
Weekly and monthly publications are also available.
Please note: this list of websites and resources is not definitive. Inclusion in this list does not imply endorsement by Austrade. The information provided is a guide only.