Economic and Political Overview

flag Mauritius Mauritius: Economic and Political Overview

In this page: Economic Indicators | Foreign Trade in Figures | Sources of General Economic Information | Political Outline | COVID-19 Country Response

 

Economic Indicators

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

Mauritius has had low but steady growth rates over the last few years (averaging 3.8% during 2015–19) and is among the most dynamic economies in Sub-Saharan Africa. Nevertheless, the COVID-19-induced crisis took a severe toll on the Mauritian economy: although the country did not record many cases, the GDP plummeted by an estimated 14.9% in 2020 (IMF), mostly due to the international travel restrictions which prompted a collapse in tourism arrivals (the sector contributes around one-fifth of GDP and accounts for 22% of employment with significant spillover effects on the whole economy – African Development Bank). Real GDP growth bounced back to 4% in 2021, led by a strong rebound in construction and manufacturing, while the tourism sector was still subdued. For 2022, the IMF estimated growth at 8.3% thanks to the full recovery of the tourism sector (the number of tourist arrivals increased to 997,290, from 179,780 one year earlier), whereas growth is projected at 4.6% in 2023. Mauritius' economy is expected to converge to its pre-pandemic trend growth of 3-3.5% by 2025 (IMF).

The country had been progressively reducing its debt-to-GDP ratio in recent years, although the support measures put in place to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic weighed on public finances. After peaking at 99.2% of GDP in 2020, public debt decreased to 90.9% in 2022 and is expected to follow a downward trend over the forecast horizon, hovering around 90% in 2023 and 2024. However, such debt is almost exclusively denominated in local currency and three-quarters of it is domestic. Furthermore, to reduce the debt-to-GDP ratio and improve the country's fiscal outlook, the government has developed a strategy that involves selling off non-strategic assets to quickly pay down debt and decrease borrowing needs and is aiming to enhance the debt profile through various debt management measures. Similarly, the budget deficit is set to reduce from an estimated level of -6.1% of GDP in FY2021/22 to -4.9% in FY 2022/23 despite the fact that VAT and excises taxes revenues stood below targets due to the prolonged closure of borders and entertainment venues as well as lower-than-expected tourist arrivals, partially compensated by greater financing from state-owned enterprises (additional 1.3% of GDP according to the IMF). The FY2022/23 budget projects revenues at MUR 150 billion as opposed to MUR 172.9 billion in expenditure, and focuses on three main objectives: food security, sustainable economy and social protection. As almost all energy and consumer goods are imported, the inflation rate spiked to 10.5% in 2022 (IMF's latest estimates), also influenced by the depreciation of the local currency. The IMF expects inflationary pressures to gradually ease through 2023 and 2024 (to 9.5% and 6.5%, respectively). Overall, the country’s economy is driven by the services sector, which accounts for around 66.9% of GDP, with tourism (catering, accommodation, leisure, etc.) and financial services being the most vital sectors for the economy. The country's economy is diversified and also relies on its offshore financial activity, textile industry and production of sugarcane. Medical tourism, outsourcing, renewable energies, new technologies and the luxury industries are among the developing sectors. Overall, the industrial sector accounts for 18.3% of GDP, while the agricultural sector contributes around 3.3% (World Bank). Furthermore, Mauritius enjoys political stability.

The island of Mauritius has made substantial progress in its campaign for social equality and poverty reduction and represents an exemplary model of development. The island is classified as an upper-middle-income country by the World Bank, with a high Human Development Index, and is seeking to become a high-income country within the next decade. According to the IMF, GDP per capita (PPP) reached USD 29,164 in 2023, the second-highest in Africa after Seychelles. Data by Statistics Mauritius show that the unemployment rate for the fourth quarter of 2022 was estimated at 6.8%, compared to 8.1% in the corresponding period of the previous year. Female labour participation is significantly low compared to male labour participation and youth unemployment stands at around 25%.

 
Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 12.9014.8216.1117.3018.15
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) 8.75.13.83.43.4
GDP per Capita (USD) 10,22711,75212,77313,72414,395
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -2.2-3.2-3.7-2.7-2.6
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 83.179.778.978.879.5
Inflation Rate (%) n/a7.86.57.44.9
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labour Force) 7.77.47.37.37.3
Current Account (billions USD) -1.49-0.92-0.66-0.81-0.96
Current Account (in % of GDP) -11.5-6.2-4.1-4.7-5.3

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database , Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

The agricultural sector is relatively small, accounting for 3.3% of GDP and around 6% of total employment (World Bank, latest data available). Most of the country’s arable land is cultivated with sugar cane, which is by far Mauritius’ largest crop (2.7 million tonnes produced per year from 41,897 ha of harvested area, against 7,992 ha destined for other food crops and 6,853 destined to tea). In fact, Mauritius has a food self-sufficiency ratio of less than 30% and imports many of its essential food requirements. Products imported include rice, meat and fish, certain fruits (oranges, mandarins, and grapes), pulses, milk and dairy products, fresh and frozen vegetables, coffee, tea and spices, cereals, oil, beverages, wheat, and food preparations.

The industry sector has been growing in importance, now contributing 18.3% of GDP and 24% of employment. The Mauritian manufacturing sector – which is estimated to account for 12% of GDP by the World Bank - has traditionally been dominated by textiles and sugar production. The former developed from basic productions to a vertically integrated subsector, turning Mauritius into the textile hub of excellence in Southern Eastern Africa. According to the latest figures from Statistics Mauritius, in the period Oct 2021-Sep 2022, the overall real industrial output grew by 8.5%.

The tertiary sector dominates the country’s economy, services being the main employer (70% of the workforce) and the largest contributor to GDP (66.9%). The financial services sector is a core part of the economy, with a GDP contribution of 13.1%, which includes 6.6% in financial intermediation, 2.1% in insurance activities and 0.6% in financial leasing and other credit-granting activities (Mauritius International Financial Centre). The tourism sector is also pivotal: before the pandemic, Mauritius attracted 1.4 million tourists, but the numbers dropped drastically following the COVID-19 restrictions. In 2022, it showed signs of recovery, with the country receiving 376,556 tourists in the first semester of 2022 (against 3,225 in the same period one year earlier).

 
Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 5.1 23.6 71.2
Value Added (in % of GDP) 3.4 18.4 65.8
Value Added (Annual % Change) 3.4 5.6 10.6

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

 

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Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
American Dollar (USD) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 MUR 0.030.030.030.030.03

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

 
 

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Indicator of Economic Freedom

Definition:

The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

Score:
77/100
World Rank:
13
Regional Rank:
1

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation

 
 

Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.

 

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Foreign Trade in Figures

Mauritius has a liberal economic and trade policy, with a trade-to-GDP ratio of 98% (World Bank, latest data available). The country is a member of the WTO, as well as other regional economic groups (COMESA, SADC, IOC). Mauritius aims to transform the island into an open and globally competitive economy and to fully integrate it into the world trade system through its trade policies. Comparatively, the island does not have many trade barriers and customs duties are low (the weighted average applied tariff is only 0.92%). In 2021, Mauritius exports were led by clothing (24.4%, mainly t-shirts, shirts and suits), prepared or preserved fish (13.5%), and sugar (10%, sugarcane occupies 85% of the country's cultivated land); while the country imported chiefly petroleum products (17.2%), machinery (6.9%), vehicles (6.1%), and electrical machinery and equipment (6% - data ITC).

The country’s main trading partners are South Africa (13.8% of the total), France (13.4%), the United Kingdom (9.2%), the United States (8.3%), and Madagascar (7.7%); with imports originating from China (17.7%), India (15.6%), the UAE (8.8%), South Africa (8%), and France (6.7% - data ITC 2021).

Mauritius imports more than it exports, resulting in a structural trade deficit. In 2021, the country exported USD 1.9 billion worth of merchandise (+9.6% year-on-year) against USD 5.1 billion in imports (+21.4% y-o-y). Traditionally, the country is a net service exporter, thanks to its tourism sector. Nevertheless, in 2021 the balance of trade in services turned negative (USD 1.233 billion in commercial services export against USD 1.430 billion in imports - data by WTO). When computing both goods and services, Mauritius’ trade deficit stood at 9.7% of GDP in 2021 (from 7.1% one year earlier - World Bank). According to the latest data from Statistics Mauritius, total export proceeds for the year 2022 were valued at MUR 101,680 million, representing an increase of 24% over the 2021 figure, thanks to increases in “food and live animals" (+22.6%), “manufactured goods classified chiefly by material" (+18.6%) and “miscellaneous manufactured articles" (+12.7%). In the same year, imports reached MUR 292,429 million (+36.1% y-o-y). Overall, the trade deficit for the year 2022 stood at MUR 190,749 million, around 43.6% higher than the 2021 deficit.

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20182019202020212022
Imports of Goods (million USD) 5,6615,5964,2205,1336,609
Exports of Goods (million USD) 2,3662,2231,7891,9622,388
Imports of Services (million USD) 2,1462,0711,3071,4122,032
Exports of Services (million USD) 3,2203,0351,3001,2322,618
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -0.21.6-28.67.710.0
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 1.2-2.7-28.711.538.3
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 52.052.246.554.063.1
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 46.144.139.444.256.2
Trade Balance (million USD) -3,015-3,071-2,126-2,683-3,618
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -1,941-2,106-2,134-2,863-3,031
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 98.196.385.998.2119.3

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank , Latest Available Data

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2022
South Africa 13.4%
France 12.9%
Madagascar 9.0%
United Kingdom 8.6%
United States 8.0%
See More Countries 48.1%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2022
China 16.1%
India 9.8%
South Africa 9.1%
United Arab Emirates 9.0%
Oman 8.3%
See More Countries 47.8%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

 
 

Main Products

1.9 bn USD of products exported in 2022
Prepared or preserved fish; caviar and caviar...Prepared or preserved fish; caviar and caviar substitutes prepared from fish eggs 13.6%
Cane or beet sugar and chemically pure sucrose, in...Cane or beet sugar and chemically pure sucrose, in solid form 10.5%
Men's or boys' suits, ensembles, jackets, blazers,...Men's or boys' suits, ensembles, jackets, blazers, trousers, bib and brace overalls, breeches and shorts (excl. knitted or crocheted, wind-jackets and similar articles, separate waistcoats, tracksuits, ski suits and swimwear) 6.2%
Diamonds, whether or not worked, but not mounted...Diamonds, whether or not worked, but not mounted or set (excl. unmounted stones for pick-up styluses, worked stones, suitable for use as parts of meters, measuring instruments or other articles of chapter 90) 5.1%
T-shirts, singlets and other vests, knitted or...T-shirts, singlets and other vests, knitted or crocheted 4.5%
See More Products 60.1%
6.6 bn USD of products imported in 2022
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 19.1%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 4.0%
Frozen fish (excl. fish fillets and other fish...Frozen fish (excl. fish fillets and other fish meat of heading 0304) 3.1%
Coal; briquettes, ovoids and similar solid fuels...Coal; briquettes, ovoids and similar solid fuels manufactured from coal 2.6%
Telephone sets, incl. telephones for cellular...Telephone sets, incl. telephones for cellular networks or for other wireless networks; other apparatus for the transmission or reception of voice, images or other data, incl. apparatus for communication in a wired or wireless network [such as a local or wide area network]; parts thereof (excl. than transmission or reception apparatus of heading 8443, 8525, 8527 or 8528) 2.6%
See More Products 68.7%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

 
 

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Main Services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

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Sources of General Economic Information

Ministries
Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development 
Statistics Mauritius
Economic Development Board Mauritius
Statistical Office
Statistics Mauritius
Central Bank
Bank of Mauritius
Stock Exchange
Stock Exchange of Mauritius (SEM)
Search Engines
Economic Portals

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Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
President: Pritivirajsing ROOPUN (since 2 December 2019)
Prime Minister: Pravind JUGNAUTH (since 23 January 2017)
Next Election Dates
Presidential: 2024
National Assembly: 2024
Main Political Parties
The main political parties include:

- Militant Socialist Movement (MSM): centre-left, democratic socialism; it is the largest single political party in the National Assembly (42 of the 69 seats) following the 2019 general elections
- Labour Party (PTr): centre-left, social-democratic
- Mauritian Militant Movement (MMM): left-wing socialist party
- Mauritian Social Democratic Party (PMSD): conservative and Francophilic

- Muvman Liberater (ML): left-wing, democratic socialism
- Rodrigues People's Organisation (OPR): left-wing, based in the Island of Rodrigues
- Plateforme Militante (PM): left-wing.

Type of State
Democratic parliamentary Republic
Executive Power
The President and the vice president are indirectly elected by the National Assembly for 5-year renewable terms. The president appoints the Prime Minister and the deputy prime minister who have the majority support in the National Assembly.
Legislative Power
The legislative power is vested in the unicameral Parliament, called the National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale. The Assembly has a maximum of 70 seats, of which 62 members are directly elected multi-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and up to 8 seats are allocated to non-elected party candidates by the Office of Electoral Commissioner. Its members serve a 5-year term.
 

Indicator of Freedom of the Press

Definition:

The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
61/180

Source: Reporters Without Borders

 

Indicator of Political Freedom

Definition:

The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Ranking:
Free
Political Freedom:
1/7
Civil Liberties:
50 out of 60 (free) - Civil liberties (50 out of 60)

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House

 

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COVID-19 Country Response

Travel restrictions
Regularly updated travel information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related entry regulations, flight bans, test and vaccines requirements is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
To find information about the current travel regulations, including health requirements, it is also advised to consult Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on a daily basis by IATA.
Import & export restrictions
As of 2023, no particular measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic affect Mauritius' international trade. VAT has been reduced from 15% to 0% for masks and hand sanitisers.
For a general overview of trade restrictions which were adopted during the pandemic, please consult the section dedicated to Mauritius on the International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.
Economic recovery plan
For a summary of business support measures announced by the Mauritian Government in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, consult the dedicated page on the website of the Ministry of Finance.
For the general overview of the key economic policy responses to the COVID-19 outbreak (fiscal, monetary and macroeconomic) undertaken by the national government to limit the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the section dedicated to Mauritius in the IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.
Support plan for businesses
For an evaluation of impact of the Covid pandemic on SMEs and an inventory of country responses to foster SME resilience, refer to the OECD's SME Covid-19 Policy Responses document.
You can also consult the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.

 

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Latest Update: December 2023