Mauritius National Export Strategy 2017-2021
Mauritius’ recent journey of economic transformation has been remarkable. The business environment of the country is one of the best ranked in Africa. Sophisticated services occupy an increasingly large share of total exports and are rapidly moving away from traditional services to modern, higher added value services. The economy has continued to diversify with high value added sectors progressively contributing more to gross domestic product. The significant improvements in reducing poverty and sharing prosperity achieved over the past decades have led to low inequality in comparison to regional standards and peer upper middle-income countries, such as South Africa or Seychelles.
Against this background, there are some clouds and challenges ahead. As many other countries, Mauritius is facing the challenge of a slowdown in growth combined with increased inequality that is in particular affecting the young. In Mauritius, this situation is compounded by relatively low levels of investment in productive sectors, the erosion of trade preferences and a tightening of regulations affecting offshore financial activities. Moreover, Brexit is casting a shadow of uncertainty over market access to the UK and the EU – the biggest export market for Mauritian manufacturing and agro-processed products.
The national export strategy of Mauritius provides a blueprint that aims at reinvigorating growth, and trade in a socially inclusive manner. New sources of growth are needed at this juncture. Innovative and ambitious initiatives are required to consolidate the progress made and to prepare the country to size the opportunities in the future. In order to achieve this, the National Export Strategy provides a vision for the country underpinned by concrete actions both at the national and the sector level encapsulated in a series of specific sector and cross-sector strategies that have been elaborated through a highly inclusive and participatory process involving a broad range of public, private and civil society stakeholders from across the entire export value chain. Main NES document lays down the overarching rationale and strategic framework for the complete national export strategy.
The vision of the strategy is to turn Mauritius into a strategic hub for international trade, an open, dynamic and sustainable economy driven by knowledge and innovation. This vision has provided the necessary inspiration and guidance to the stakeholders throughout the strategy’s design process and will continue to provide a sense of direction during its implementation. Achieving the following three overarching strategic objectives at the national level is to materialize the vision.
Transition to a knowledge-based economy thriving on innovation and value addition. This strategic objective strengthens the foundations of the economic transformation process that is to allow Mauritius to achieve the status of high-income country. This is to be accomplished by fostering innovation, improving institutional coordination and strengthening the skills of workers across the economy. The development of several clusters and incubators focusing on high-growth and research-intensive sectors is at the centre stage of this strategic objective. These clusters are expected to generate economy-wide productivity gains through knowledge and technology spill overs. Ensuring that this takes place requires strengthening the trade support network by addressing coordination and capacity challenges, particularly in the provision of support to the services sectors. The three crosscutting functional strategies of “Innovation”, “Institutional Alignment” and “Skills Development” specifically contribute to this strategic objective.
There is a need to increase market access and attract more foreign direct investment. The first can be done through better identification of potential preferential trading partners and negotiating new free trade agreements, as necessary. Attracting inward investment requires a tactical approach to identify countries with which to negotiate International Investment Agreements, as well as making the necessary regulatory adjustments to promote productive investment that would contribute significantly to employment, enhance growth and productivity, and eventually lead to greater economic benefits.
Make Mauritius the reference country and trade partner of choice. This strategic objective aims to position Mauritius as the preferred business location for international traders and investors. Positioning the country as an attractive investment destination intends to further strengthen the supply capacity and innovation potential of the economy. This objective is to be achieved by streamlining customs and export procedures, by improving the dissemination of sector-specific information on market access opportunities offered by existing trade agreements, and by addressing trade finance bottlenecks. Enterprise Mauritius is going to play an active role in the implementation of the activities of this strategic objective. The crosscutting functional strategy in “Branding” is directly aligned and supports this strategic objective.
Translate export-led success into sustainable and inclusive growth. This strategic objective aims to generate economic opportunities for vulnerable and disadvantaged segments of the population such as women and young people. Incorporating currently idle resources into the productive and export sectors is intended to achieve a more balanced distribution of wealth while generating new growth opportunities for everyone. This is to be achieved through a combination of specific support for business associations and trade support institutions that have a bearing on gender issues. The cross-cutting functional strategies on the “Internationalization of SMEs”, and the “Rodrigues Island” aim to contribute to this strategic objective.
In addition to the above strategic objectives, the strategy identifies a number of priority sectors and crosscutting support functions that further contribute to materialize the vision. Specific/detailed strategies have been developed for each of these.