Current business situation
The island of Mauritius, once regarded as the ‘Stella Clavisque Maris Indici’ (Star and Key of the Indian Ocean), is regularly seen as a role model by its peers in other African states. Making up for its relatively small land mass, the island has always capitalised on the inherent natural resources, innovation and adaptable population to maintain economic progress. It has successfully transitioned from being a low-income monocrop economy, based on sugar production, to a middle-income, diversified one, supported by additional pillars, including an increased emphasis on innovation and services (agri-business, tourism, education, ICT, freeport and logistics, creative industries and renewable energies).
Mauritius also hosts an active financial services platform, underpinned by strong legislation, adherence to international norms and provision of a solid level of service from highly skilled and experienced professionals. With a time zone that enables coverage of major world economies, as well as close proximity and strong business links with African and other counterparts helps reinforce the position of Mauritius as a secure platform for investment into Africa and a global business hub.
The country is gearing up for further diversification through value addition and developing niche areas, including within the manufacturing sector (high precision engineering, food processing, pharmaceutical products, jewellery and watch making, light manufacturing and other fast moving consumer goods) and also the ocean sector (harnessing its extensive exclusive economic zone, which is over 1,100 times its own land mass).
The young population of Mauritius and literate, multilingual workforce (English, French and oriental languages) offer good prospects for overseas companies willing to develop their export business further, by making use of the services and facilities provided, offering increasing areas of opportunity. Authorities are also keen to encourage the development of a culture of entrepreneurship supported by relevant technological and other platforms. Additional upcoming areas of growth include high end medical services, developing the higher education sector and increasing engagement with Africa.
An important aspect for consideration is the fact that the island nation is a very active regional player, having forged strong linkages with various other global partners. Mauritius is already part of a number of regional blocks (Southern African Development Community (SADC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), Indian Ocean Commission (IOC)) that enable access, at preferential rates in many cases, to a significantly bigger market than that represented by 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 on first contact (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 although 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 you should advise that you will be late for your meeting.
Dinners and lunches with local representatives and customers help develop networks.
Business suits are generally recommended for business meetings for both men and women. Long sleeved shirt and tie are acceptable for men within many private companies.
Government purchases over a set threshold value are undertaken through the Central Procurement Board and this process can be lengthy.
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.
Some points to remember:
- All businesses must be registered with the Companies Division and registration can be done online.
- Occupation permits are required to enable non-nationals to live and work in Mauritius. This serves as work and residence permit.
- A number of serviced offices are available for hire in the main business areas – Port Louis, Ebene Cybercity and other new and upcoming regions like Moka.
- A number of local real estate agents can assist you with identifying suitable premises.
- The island has a very well developed electricity and telephone network.
- 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 22 banks that are licensed by the Bank of Mauritius to carry out banking business in Mauritius:
- five local banks
- 10 foreign-owned subsidiaries
- one joint venture
- four are branches of foreign banks
- two are licensed as private banks.
Internationally active banks from some of the world’s biggest international and most reputable 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. Specialised 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 of the banks specialise in corporate and investment banking and are mainly engaged in global business and financial activities. Many 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
Board of Investment
Central Statistics Office
Financial Services Commission
Government of Mauritius
Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Mauritius Freeport Portal
Ministry of Finance and Economic Development
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Cooperation
Public Procurement Portal
The Stock Exchange of Mauritius
Barclays Bank of Mauritius
The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation
Mauritius Commercial Bank
Standard Chartered Bank Mauritius
State Bank of Mauritius
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 not available on the Internet. Local dailies are:
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. The content is for information and carries no warranty; as such, the addressee must exercise their own discretion in its use. Australia’s anti-bribery laws apply overseas and Austrade will not provide business related services to any party who breaches the law and will report credible evidence of any breach. For further information, please see foreign bribery information and awareness pack.