Mauritius – a land of opportunities for foreign investors1st Aug 2018
For over a decade now, since Mauritius first introduced its business facilitation legislation, the country has been open to foreign nationals – not only those seeking employment as professionals, but also those coming to invest in the country.
Whether for its local market – limited in size but with high purchasing power and a sizeable tourist influx – or for its guaranteed access to the EU, US or Africa through existing trade agreements, Mauritius is attracting a growing number of noncitizens as investors.
Mauritius’s political and social stability, its sound legal, financial and business ecosystem, and the availability of a skilled and bilingual labour force have long been sought-after qualities of this island nation. It’s quite astonishing to think that, when it gained independence from Britain in 1968, Mauritius was a mono-crop economy relying solely on sugar. Now it’s ranked persistently first in Africa on the World Bank Doing Business Survey, and also on the Economic Freedom Index of the Heritage Foundation. The country’s favourable business ecosystem is mirrored in a range of opportunities across a wide array of economic sectors.
Though for some years now real estate, financial and insurance activities and the construction sector have attracted the bulk of the island’s foreign direct investment, the range of opportunities cuts across a wide spectrum of sectors: agriculture, education, healthcare, ICTBPO (information and communication technology & business process outsourcing), life sciences, logistics, manufacturing, media and creative industries, ocean economy and renewable energy. There is no restriction to the types of businesses foreign investors may operate, except for certain tourism-related activities that are restricted to Mauritian nationals.
The promotion of foreign investment in Mauritius is the responsibility of the Economic Development Board (EDB), previously known as the Board of Investment. The EDB will advise and assist all prospective investors and accompany them through all the stages of their application for an occupation permit – a combined work and residence permit that allows foreign nationals to work and live in Mauritius for a period of three years. South African nationals can also seek assistance from the South African Chamber of Commerce in Mauritius. They work closely with EDB and their members to ease the setting up of South African businesses on the island. According to EDB, there are currently 125 South African-owned companies active in Mauritius across a wide range of sectors.
Conditions applicable to foreign investors
An investor is defined as a shareholder and director in a company incorporated in Mauritius under the Companies Act of 2001. Companies can be 100% foreign-owned, and do not have any minimum capital requirement. A foreign investor will be required to make an initial transfer of US$100,000 or its equivalent in any other convertible currency into the account of the company under which the application for the occupation permit will be made. Subject to provisions in force, the investor’s business activity should generate an annual turnover of at least MUR 2 million* for the first year, and a cumulative turnover of at least MUR 10 million for the subsequent two years. A company may have more than one investor. However, the initial investment and annual turnover requirements will be a multiple of the number of investors.
An investor wishing to bring in high-tech machinery and equipment as part of the investment of US$100,000 must transfer a minimum of US$25,000 or its equivalent, and the remaining balance in terms of high-tech machinery and equipment. Applications for an occupation permit are submitted to the Occupation Permit Unit, which is managed jointly by EDB and the Passport & Immigration Office. Successful applicants will first be issued with an Approval in Principle, and non-citizens will only be required to travel to Mauritius after the issue of the Approval in Principle.
ABAX can assist you through all the stages of setting up your business in Mauritius, freeing your valuable time. We will help to incorporate your company, assist you in finding the right location, recruit your workforce, and look after your ongoing administration to ensure you are fully compliant with our legal and regulatory framework. As our clients grow, we also accompany them through their lifecycle, providing them with tailored business and advisory services, including financial accounting and control, and corporate finance advisory.
As Mauritius achieves its ambition to become a high-income country over the next two decades, with ever more emphasis on diversifying its economic base, investment opportunities will continue to emerge and attract a growing number of foreign investors. With the island’s quality environment offering excellent work-life balance, no wonder so many foreign investors aspire to become permanent residents.
*1 ZAR = 2.55 MRU (subject to change)