Mauritius is one of the most open economies in the Africa region and has become a key platform for investment and doing business in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Strategically situated in the Indian Ocean, 2,400 km off the southeast coast of Africa, Mauritius is a former colony of both France and Britain. It gained independence in 1968 and, following the adoption of a new constitution, became a republic in 1992.
The Republic of Mauritius has an appointed president as the head of state and a parliament, which is elected every five years by popular vote, as the legislative body. The Economist magazine rated Mauritius as the only “full” democracy in Africa. Its legal system derives from both French civil law and English common law. Unlike many other former colonies, Mauritius has retained the Privy Council as its ultimate Court of Appeal. This guarantees an appeal process that is independent of any political or other form of bias.
Financial regulation is based on international best practice standards in terms of legal framework and supervision. In August 2017, the OECD’s Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes rated Mauritius as fully ‘compliant’ under its enhanced peer review process to assess international standards. It was one of only three top-rated jurisdictions worldwide.
Mauritius has a ready supply of skilled, educated and, in many cases, bi-lingual staff and has attracted many financial institutions and professional service providers to service the international finance centre. Mauritius also boasts an innovative pool of products including Protective Cell Companies, Limited Partnerships, Foundations, Private Pension Schemes, Regional Head Quarters and Regional Training Centres.
Government policy is firmly centred on promoting foreign and domestic investment. Mauritius has no withholding tax on dividends, interest and royalties, no capital gains tax, free repatriation of profits, no estate duty, inheritance tax or gift tax. The Mauritian currency is the rupee (MR), which is freely convertible. Mauritius’ advantageous GMT +4 time zone allows business to be done with major markets within a single business day.
Mauritius also has 44 tax treaties that are currently in force worldwide, while another seven – Gabon, Ghana, Jersey, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and Russia – have been signed and await ratification. A further four treaties have been negotiated and await signature, while 21 treaties are under currently under negotiation.
The Stock Exchange of Mauritius (SEM) is one of the leading platforms in Africa and also a member of a number of international bodies, including the World Federation of Exchanges, South Asian Federation of Exchanges and African Securities Exchanges Association and Committee of SADC Stock Exchanges.
Given its political, social and economic stability, efficient and effective regulatory framework, state-of-the-art infrastructure, transparent and innovative legal framework and highly competitive tax system, Mauritius claimed the highest score in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and the Southern African Development community (SADC) in the World Bank's 2018 ‘Ease of Doing Business’ report. Mauritius secured 25th position out of 190 economies globally.