Click here for a comprehensive list of trade agreements signed by Mauritius.
Non Tariff Barriers
Certain products are subject to import permits, mainly for health, security, environmental purposes and national interest (click here for a list).
Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
According to the latest figures form the World Bank, the simple average tariff across all products is 1.21% and the trade weighted average tariff is 0.81%.
Mauritius adopts the Harmonised System for the Classification of goods. Consult the website of the Mauritius Revenue Authority for further info. For certain strategic reasons, trade in some products is overseen by parastatal organisations. The State Trading Corporation (STC), the Agricultural Marketing Board (AMB), and the Mauritius Meat Authority (MMA) are amongst the main parastatal organisations involved in the monitoring of certain products. For example, the STC is the only authorised importer of essential commodities like basic rice, wheat flour in bulk and all petroleum products (which are then distributed by private companies).
Any person wishing to clear import and export goods must complete customs formalities which consist in submitting a Customs Declaration (also called Bill of Entry) electronically through Tradenet giving all details of the goods imported/exported, such as the quantity, value and precise nature of the goods. Trade documents such as invoices, bills of lading or other documents must also be submitted. After submission of the entry, the importer may be called for further information and will have to pay the duty and taxes, if any, before Customs may release the goods. For a detailed procedure to import goods into Mauritius, consult the instructions provided on the Mauritius Trade Easy portal, whic also provides info about export procedures. Certain goods are allowed to entry into Mauritius only when an import permit or authorization from the relevant authority is produced. An import permit or approval to clear controlled goods will be issued within 3 working days provided all required information, particulars and documents are submitted by applicants.
The Republic of Mauritius has a population of around 1,3 million people, with a GDP per capita (PPP) of USD 25,372, among the highest in Africa (IMF). The World Bank classifies the country as an upper-middle-income economy. Although Mauritius's GNI has increased, there is increasing income inequality in the country (between 2001 and 2015, the gap between the incomes of the poorest and the richest 10% of households increased by 37%, according to the World Bank). Mauritius has a relatively young population: the median age is 36.3 years, with people between 0-14 years old accounting for almost one-fifth of the total population. Other age groups are as follows: 15-24 years 14.06%, 25-54 years 43.11%, 55-64 years 12.31%, 65 years and over 11.08% (CIA Factbook). Population density is one of the highest in the world and 40.9% of Mauritians live in urban areas, especially in the capital Port Louis. Several ethnic groups are present in the country, which is also religiously diverse: almost half of the population is Hinduist, followed by Christians (32.7%, of which 83% are Catholics), Muslims (17.3%), and other religions.
Mauritian consumers are open to foreign brands, with effective advertising, competitive pricing, prompt delivery, and reliable after-sales servicing all being important factors for success in the Mauritian market. Due to the diversity of its population, companies should consider local cultural and religious preferences when developing a marketing strategy. For example, most Hindus (representing half of the total population) do not eat beef or pork, while provision should be made for halal processing to cater to the Muslim community. Cash is the most common mean of payment; however, debit/credit card payments are becoming more common, gradually replacing cash payments in malls, supermarkets, and restaurants. According to official figures, the level of household debt jumped 15.2% between December 2021 and December 2022. Out of 10 loans taken out by households, seven relate to mortgages. Conversely, the savings ratio to gross domestic product has fallen significantly, from 20% in 2008-2009 to around 10% in 2022. In recent years, Mauritian consumers are becoming increasingly reactive to environmental problems, although it does not always translate into changes in buying habits.
Mauritius has a wide range of retail outlets, spanning from high-end shopping centres to family-run corner stores. Goods are distributed through the standard channels of importers, wholesalers, retailers, and supermarkets. Distribution of goods is relatively uncomplicated once goods arrive on the island given the country’s size. Franchising in Mauritius is predominantly, but not exclusively, in the fast food sector. According to figures from the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the wholesale and retail trade sector contributed 11.5% of GDP in 2022.
The main supermarket chains include Intermart (a partner of Intermarché), Super U, Store 2000, Winner’s, Jumbo, King Savers, and Food Lover's Market. The Central Market of Port-Louis is the largest and most emblematic market on the island. Outside of the main towns, convenience stores and local markets are the primary sources of shopping.
The Republic of Mauritius has a population of around 1.3 million, with an internet penetration rate of 64.9% as of 2022. According to the latest data by Ookla, the median mobile internet connection speed via cellular networks is 22.45 Mbps and the median fixed internet connection speed is 19.69 Mbps. Around 1 million people use social media (although social media users may not represent unique individuals), with Facebook being the main platform (788.9 thousand users), followed by Instagram (367.5 thousand users) and LinkedIn (360 thousand users – Data Reportal). Data from GSMA Intelligence shows that there were 1.96 million cellular mobile connections in Mauritius at the start of 2022. The latest data by Statistics Mauritius shows that the value added of ICT sector went up by 4.2% in nominal terms from MUR 25,356 million in 2019 to MUR 26,432 million in 2020. Its share in GVA was 7% higher than in 2019 (5.8%). According to Lonely Planet, free wi-fi is generally available throughout the country's urban areas.
E-commerce in Mauritius is limited, but its use is on the rise, particularly after the COVID-19 outbreak. The main obstacle is that the speed and bandwidth required for modern e-commerce transactions are lacking in some of the more remote areas. The e-ommerce market in Mauritius is projected to grow by 14.24% (2023-2027) resulting in a market volume of USD 469.30 million in 2027 (Statista). Many retail and wholesale shops embarked on the online market, contemplating launching e-commerce websites, more specifically electronic ordering (e-ordering), where customers can order products without having to physically go to the outlets. Many smaller Mauritian businesses, however, still prefer to use Facebook to reach their target market. Internet banking and mobile banking applications usage is increasing: according to statistics by the Bank of Mauritius, the value of internet banking transactions increased by 66% between April 2020 and April 2021.
Organizing Goods Transport
Main Useful Means of Transport
Being a remote island in the Indian Ocean, goods to Mauritius are transported by sea. The latest statistics by the Mauritius Ports Authority show that in 2021, 7,602,869 tonnes of goods were handled in Port Louis, of which 6,332,262 tonnes in imports and 1,270,607 tonnes in exports, while the total container traffic stood at 436,398 TEUs. Within the country, goods are transported by road, as there is no rail network. The transportation and storage sector is estimated to account for 5.2% of GDP by the national Chamber of Commerce and Industry (2022).
According to the latest figures from the World Bank, the industrial sector accounts for 18.3% of Mauritius' GDP, employing 24% of the active population. The manufacturing sector has traditionally been dominated by textiles and sugar production, and nowadays accounts for 12% of GDP. Other relevant sub-sectors include seafood processing and agro-processing, as well as newer segments such as medical devices, pharmaceutical products, high-end jewellery, Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEM), precision engineering, metal fabrication and optical products.
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