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Regional Agreements and Freeport

Mauritius has secured preferential access to markets of several hundreds of millions of consumers, with the US under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), with Eastern and Southern Africa, through the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and through the Southern African Development Community (SADC). These agreements provide preferential access for goods of Mauritian origin to the European Union and the United States and Eastern and Southern Africa.

Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)

Under the AGOA, Mauritius has duty and quota free access to the US markets for over 7,000 products including apparel, footwear, wine, motor vehicles components and agricultural products.

Rules of Origin require that the following rules have to be met:

  • Products must be imported directly from the beneficiary country into the United States;
  • Products must be “grown, produced or manufactured” from one or more of the beneficiary countries;
  • Products may incorporate materials sourced from non-beneficiary countries provided that the sum of the direct cost or value (i.e. the transaction value) of the materials produced in the beneficiary countries, plus the “direct costs of processing” undertaken in the beneficiary countries, equal at least 35% of the product’s appraised value at the US port of entry.

Each consignment of goods to be exported to the US under the AGOA scheme should be accompanied by an AGOA Visa Certificate delivered by Commerce Division of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Consumer Protection.

Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)

COMESA, which is currently a Free Trade Area (FTA), was established in 1994 with the objective of being a fully integrated, internationally competitive, regional economic community with high standards of living for its entire people ready to merge into an African Economic Community. Member states that belong to the FTA trade on a duty-free basis among themselves provided that the goods meet the COMESA Rules of Origin.

The COMESA Rules of Origin are a set of criteria that distinguish between goods produced within the COMESA Member States and are entitled to duty-free or preferential treatment with respect to customs duties.

The COMESA Certificate of Origin is both issued and approved by the Commerce Division of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Consumer Protection.

Southern African Development Community (SADC)

SADC was established on 17 August 1992 in Windhoek, Namibia with a vision to be integrated within a regional community that will ensure economic well-being, improvement of the standards of living and quality of life, freedom and social justice and peace and security for the people of Southern Africa.

The SADC Rules of Origin are product-specific whereby each tariff heading is assigned one or several criteria to be fulfilled for origin to be conferred. In order to benefit from preferential treatment on the SADC market, all goods should comply with the Rules of Origin under the Protocol and must be accompanied by a valid SADC Certificate of Origin, both issued and approved by the Customs Department of the Mauritius Revenue Authority.

The Rules of Origin can be one of the following types:

  • Wholly produced;
  • Change in tariff heading;
  • Percentage rule;
  • Two-stage transformation for textile and clothing.

Investing into Africa via Mauritius domestic route

Investment via Mauritius can be made through a local domestic route. This mean the set-up of a domestic company (allowed to be wholly foreign owned). A domestic company benefits from all the regional African cooperation agreements.

Key features of a domestic company include:
•    Tax on income at a rate of 15% per annum;
•    No withholding tax on dividends;
•    No interest or royalties;
•    No stamp duties;
•    No inheritance tax;
•    No capital gains tax and no exchange control.

Investing into Africa via the Freeport business route

The Mauritius Freeport is a customs-free zone providing traders and international investors with the necessary logistics for the transshipment Consolidation and Storage and minor processing of goods for re-export.

The Mauritius Freeport is a duty free Logistics, Distribution and Marketing hub for international trade. Goods transiting through the Freeport of Mauritius are exempt from customs duties. Bulk‐breaking, re‐assortment, processing and assembly can be carried out in the Freeport before the products are re‐exported to the Southern, East African and Indian Ocean markets.

The Mauritius Freeport allows investors to take advantage of the Trade Agreements (the preferential market access through COMESA, SADC, AGOA).

The Freeport legislation provides for a liberal and comprehensive package of both fiscal and non-fiscal incentives for companies looking for a cost-effective logistics platform.
•    Preferential market access;
•    Exemption from customs duties on all goods imported into the Freeport zones;
•    Free repatriation of profits;
•    Access to offshore banking facilities;
•    Reduced port handling charges for all goods destined for re-export;
•    100% foreign ownership;
•    Access to the local market.

Moreover, Mauritius is well serviced by more than 15 shipping lines such as:
•    Maersk Sealand / Safmarine;
•    Mediterranean Shipping Corporation (MSC);
•    P & O Nedloyd / Mitsui;
•    Pacific International Line (PIL);
•    Evergreen;
•    Delmas / CMA-CGM / DAL.

Our international airport accounts for over 40 international flights on a daily basis, linking Mauritius to the major business centres in the world.

The Mauritius Freeport offers the possibility of having a competitive distribution centre closer to Eastern and Southern African markets. Many European and Asian companies are already exporting to Africa. These companies could optimise their supply chain management and logistics costs by using the Mauritius Freeport as a distribution base in order to respond more quickly to their orders and in a more flexible manner.