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France and Mauritius

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Mauritius – Election of Ameenah Gurib-Fakim as president of the republic (June 4, 2015)

France extends its warmest congratulations to Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, the first female president of the Republic of Mauritius.

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Presentation

Political relations

As a neighbour of Mauritius by virtue of Réunion Island, France has deep and friendly relations with the country.

Since 1 June 2009, Mauritian nationals wishing to travel to Europe in one or several States in the Schengen area are exempt from visas for tourist, family and business trips of under 90 days (3 months) in every six month period. Furthermore, Mauritian nationals are exempt from short-stay visas in order to enter and stay in Réunion and Mayotte.

With regard to the sovereignty dispute on Tromelin Island, a bilateral agreement on “economic, scientific and environmental co-management relating to Tromelin Island and its surrounding maritime areas” was signed in June 2010.

Recent visits

30 September 2015: visit to Paris by the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Xavier-Luc Duval.
22-30 June 2015: visit to Paris by the Minister of Finance, Mr Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo.
3 October 2014: visit by the Prime Minister, Mr Navin Ramgoolam, received by the President of the French Republic in Paris.
17-18 June 2014: visit to Mauritius by Ms Annick Girardin, Minister of State for Development and Francophonie.
23-24 January 2014: visit to Mauritius by Ms Yamina Benguigui, Minister Delegate for Francophonie.

Economic relations

France is a major economic actor in Mauritius as it is:

  • its leading trade partner (2nd largest customer and 3rd largest supplier) with €612 million in trade in 2014;
  • its leading foreign investor (with over 150 French subsidiaries and companies);
  • its largest provider of tourists (almost 400,000 French people out of 1.1 million tourists in 2015);
  • its second-largest bilateral donor (after China), through the AFD, with a total contribution of over €500 million since 2007.

Trade relations between France and Mauritius

In 2014, France was Mauritius’ 3rd largest trading partner (after India and China), its 2nd largest customer (after the United Kingdom) and its 3rd largest supplier (after India and China, and ahead of South Africa). In 2014, trade between France and Mauritius increased by 1% compared to 2013 (€612 million in 2014, compared to €606 million in 2013). As in previous years, the trade balance is in France’s favour, with a surplus reaching €54 million in 2014. We must note the stability of the balance, which has been in the region of €60 million for the past five years.

With a volume of €333 million in 2014, French exports to Mauritius are stable compared to 2013 (€335 million). The main groups of exported products are “other industrial products” accounting for 44% of the total with €145 million, mechanical, electronic and electrical equipment 26% of the total with €85 million and food products 25% of the total with €84 million.

With a volume of €279 million in 2014, French imports from Mauritius recorded an increase of 2.9% (€271 million in 2013). The main categories of imported products are “other industrial products” (including textiles and clothing) totalling €193 million in 2014 and food products (including agricultural products, fishing and aquaculture) totalling €64 million in 2014.

French investments

In terms of flows, France is the leading foreign investor in Mauritius with €87 million in 2014, ahead of the United States, South Africa and the United Kingdom. As regards stock, the level of investment is about $1.2 billion. In terms of established businesses, France is also far ahead with almost 140 subsidiaries or joint ventures (Accor, Colas, GDF Suez and Orange, etc.). Today, French-funded companies employ over 13,000 people in Mauritius, especially in the service sector (information and communication technology (ICT), trade and distribution, hotels, etc.). About 15 major French companies are set up in Mauritius, but most investors are SMEs, mainly from the service sector. The oldest French companies established in Mauritius are Air France, Total and Lafarge, which have respectively been in the country since 1946, 1956 and 1959.

Financing and development

The French Development Agency (AFD), with its expertise and on the basis of concessional loans, is working towards sustainable development in Mauritius. It has become one of the main partners of financing for development with €500 million mobilized since 2007 (including €350 million in the "Maurice Ile Durable" project launched by the authorities in 2008).

Trade between Mauritius and Réunion

Trade between Réunion and Mauritius (€46.2 million in 2014) is heavily tilted towards Mauritius. In 2014, exports from Réunion to Mauritius (€9.5 million) were less than Réunion imports from Mauritius (€36.7 million). Réunion investments in Mauritius account for about 25% of the French presence in the country. The headquarters of over thirty French companies set up in Mauritius are located in Réunion. Most of these investments are from SMEs or VSEs. In April 2015, Club Export Réunion, the Association for Industrial Development in Réunion (ADIR) and the Joint Economic Council (JEC) decided to create a Réunion/Mauritius platform (public/private partnership) with the aim of structuring and revitalizing economic relations between the two territories.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Although English is the official language and the language of law, French is widely used (including in the press) and Francophonie is progressing naturally (creole, which is the cornerstone of Mauritian society, being derived from French).

On 11 May 2010, Jean-Marie-Gustave Le Clézio, a French-Mauritian and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, inaugurated the new cultural centre (Institut français in Mauritius) built on a plot of land in Rose Hill made available by the Mauritian government. This ambitious, partnership-based project, located near the University, enjoys huge popularity. The Alliance Française also has a long-standing presence in Port Louis and Rodrigues.

France is working proactively in the area of training, education, higher education and research, with inter-university cooperation and grant programmes. In addition, through the Agency for French Education Abroad, France supports a network of very highly regarded French schools in Mauritius (five schools, 5,000 students, two-thirds of whom have Mauritian nationality).

Updated: 20 January 2016

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