Mauritius is an Indian Ocean island state with a population of 1.28 million and an annual population growth of 0.5%. It covers a land area of 1,860 km2 and benefits from an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 1.860 million square km. It includes the islands of Rodrigues, Agalega and Saint Brandon. Mauritius claims sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago, part of the British Indian Ocean Territory and Tromelin, a French Territory. For the latter a co-management programme has been agreed between France and Mauritius in 2010.
Mauritius is classified as one of Africa’s most successful economies with a GDP per capita of USD 8385 in 2011. It underwent a highly successful transformation from a monosector/monocrop economy (agriculture/sugar) in the 1970s to a much more diversified economy (manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, financial services) today.
Despite its impressive post-independence performance, the Mauritian economy faces a number of short and medium-term challenges, on both the internal and external fronts. In this context the country embarked on a comprehensive ten-year economic reform programme since 2006, aiming at gearing the country towards a high growth path by creating a new socio-economic model, driven by competitiveness and creation of opportunities for all. The reform hinges upon fiscal consolidation and improving public sector efficiency, improving trade competitiveness, improving the investment climate and democratising the economy.
The country was affected by the global crisis and the economic growth rate stood at 3.1% in 2009, the lowest rate in the past 5 years. However the Government of Mauritius designed and implemented various policy responses to counter the effects of the global crisis. The growth rate picked up since then reaching 4.2 in 2010 and 3.5% in 2011. For 2012 the economic growth forecast is around 3.3%.
Mauritius became independent from the United Kingdom in 1968 and a Republic on March 12, 1992. Parliamentary elections are scheduled every 5 years. Most recent elections took place in May 2010.
Rodrigues has political and administrative autonomy from Mauritius and is managed by the Rodrigues Regional Assembly.
Mauritius is a member of the African Union (AU), World Trade Organization (WTO), the Commonwealth and of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie. It is also an active member of a number of Indian Ocean and Southern African regional organisations, including:
- COMESA (the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa)
- IOC ( Indian Ocean Commission)
- SADC (Southern African Development Community)
- IOR (Indian Ocean Rim)
The main export products are textile, sugar (also value-added sugars) and horticultural products. Main trading partners are United Kingdom, France, India, China, South Africa, Madagascar, Italy and Japan.
Though trade with other Indian Ocean and Southern African countries (other than South Africa) is still quite limited, Mauritius is keen to increase levels of trade and investment regionally and regional co-operation is an increasingly important feature of foreign policy.
The Mauritius-EU cooperation dates since the Yaoundé convention 2 in 1969. In 2000 Mauritius signed the Cotonou Agreement, concluded between the ACP countries and the EU (revised in 2005 and in 2010) and signed the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and Eastern and Southern Africa in 2009.