As a neighbouring country owing to the proximity of Reunion Island, France maintains friendly and close relations with Mauritius.
Since 1 June 2009, Mauritian nationals travelling to Europe to one or more States of the Schengen Area as tourist or family visitors, or on business, do not require a visa for a stay under 90 days (3 months) per period of 6 months. In addition, Mauritian nationals do not require a short-stay visa to enter and stay in Reunion and Mayotte.
Concerning the dispute as to sovereignty over Tromelin Island, a bilateral “Framework Agreement on Economic, Scientific and Environmental Co-management relating to Tromelin Island and Its Surrounding Maritime Areas” was signed in June 2010.
29 June 2016: visit to France by the Hon. Nandcoomar Bodha, Mauritian Minister of Public Infrastructure and Land Transport. Met with Matthias Fekl, French Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad.
30 March 2016: visit to Paris by Ms Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, President of the Republic of Mauritius. Met with the French President, François Hollande.
30 September 2015: visit to Paris by Xavier-Luc Duval, Mauritian Deputy Prime Minister.
22-30 June 2015: visit to Paris by Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo, Mauritian Minister of Finance.
3 October 2014: visit by Mauritian Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam, who met with the French President in Paris.
17-18 June 2014: visit to Mauritius by Ms Annick Girardin, French Minister of State for Development and Francophonie.
23-24 January 2014: visit to Mauritius by Ms Yamina Benguigui, French Minister Delegate for Francophonie.
France is a major economic actor in Mauritius as it is:
- its biggest trading partner (second-largest customer and third-largest supplier) with €612 million in trade in 2014;
- its leading foreign investor (with more than 150 subsidiaries and French companies);
- its main provider of tourists (around 400 000 French people out of 1.1 million tourists in 2015);
- its second-largest bilateral donor (after China), through the French Development Agency (AFD), which has totalled a commitment in excess of €500 million since 2007.
Trade between France and Mauritius
In 2015, France was the third-largest trading partner of Mauritius (behind India and China), its fourth-largest client country (behind the UK, the United Arab Emirates and the United States), and its third-largest supplier (behind India and China, and ahead of South Africa). As in previous years, the trade balance is positive for France, with surplus of €74 million in 2015. Over the past five years, the trade balance has settled at around €60 million.
In 2015, French exports to Mauritius (€344 million) increased by 3%, while French imports from Mauritius (€270 million) decreased by 4%. Thus, the trade balance in favour of France grew from €52 million in 2014 to €74 million in 2015, or an increase of 42%. Over the past ten years, the trade volume between the two countries has been particularly stable given that French exports (highly diverse) have varied between €320 million and €350 million, while French imports (highly concentrated) range from €260 to 290 million.
In terms of investment flows, France is the leading foreign investor in Mauritius, ahead of the United States, South Africa and the United Kingdom, with €87 million in 2014. France’s FDI stock was estimated at about €500 million at the end of 2014. In terms of company numbers, France is also, by far, in leading position with 140 subsidiaries or joint ventures including Accor, COLAS, GDF Suez and Orange. Today, French capital companies employ more than 13 000 people in Mauritius, mainly in services activities (ICT, distributive trades, hotels, etc.). Some 15 large French companies are present in Mauritius, but most investors are SMEs, mainly in service activities. Among the French companies based in Mauritius, the oldest established are Air France, Total and Lafarge, respectively since 1946, 1956 and 1959.
Financing and development
The French Development Agency (AFD) is now the second-biggest bilateral donor after China. As Mauritius is an upper middle-income country (UMIC), the AFD mainly provides loans, sometimes subsidized and accompanied by technical expertise and capacity-building. Since the reopening of its branch in 2006, the AFD has made €586 million in gross commitments in Mauritius. As at 30 April 2016, the total amount of gross outstanding loans and guarantees provided by the AFD in Mauritius was €330.7 million.
Trade between Mauritius and Reunion
Trade between Reunion and Mauritius (€38 million in 2015) is strongly unbalanced in favour of the latter. In 2015, Reunion exports to Mauritius (€6 million) were lower than Reunion imports from Mauritius (€32 million).
Reunion investment in Mauritius account for about 25% of French companies. The parent companies of over 30 French companies based in Mauritius are in Reunion. Most of that investment is made by small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and very small enterprises (VSEs).
In April 2015, the Reunion Export Club, the Association for Industrial Development in Reunion (ADIR) and the Joint Economic Council (JEC) - the coordinating body of the Mauritius private sector - decided to create a Reunion/Mauritius platform (private/private partnership) with the aim of structuring and revitalizing economic relations between the two territories.
A meeting of the economic committee of the Mauritius-Reunion Joint Committee (CECM) was held in September 2015.
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 (French Institute 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).