Javed Niamut and Padmini Bheekharry of BLC Robert & Associates discuss the business environment in Mauritius
1. What attributes does your country have that makes it a unique investment destination?
Viewed as a sound model of socio-political stability and economic prosperity, Mauritius has firmly established itself as a unique investment destination, with good fundamentals for growing wealth The island has built up a strong financial services sector with an efficient regulatory regime, well-established banking institutions and a stock exchange which is one of the leading exchanges in Africa. The latest OECD report confirms once again that Mauritius is largely compliant with global requirements and that it can be compared to countries such as the UK, US, Singapore and Hong Kong.
The Mauritian legal system is a hybrid system which draws legal principles from both French civil law and British common law traditions; its procedures are largely derived from the English system, while its substance is based in the Napoleon Code of 1804. Commercial and contractual law is also based on the civil code. The Supreme Court is the highest judicial authority and the country has maintained the right of appeal against final judgments of the Supreme Court to the judicial committee of the Privy Council of England. Mauritius is a member of the International Court of Justice.
Mauritius is also known as an International Arbitration Centre for the region. It embraced this new model of dispute settlement as it offers a tailor-made option for investors which cater for a cheaper and fast out-of-court alternative to settle commercial disputes which would safeguard confidentiality. The International Arbitration Act offers a simple and ready-made mechanism for the incorporation of arbitration clauses in the constitution of Global Business companies based in Mauritius. In addition, investors can also have additional comfort in the availability of a pool of international arbitrators for settling disputes. Arbitration is preferred across sectors for the flexible approach over the rigidity of courts.
Mauritius combines the traditional advantages of being an offshore financial centre (no capital gains tax, no withholding tax, no capital duty on issued capital, confidentiality of company information, exchange liberalisation and free repatriation of profits and capital) with the distinct advantages of being a treaty based jurisdiction with a substantial network of double taxation avoidance treaties and investment promotion and protection agreements. The combination of fiscal and non-fiscal advantages together with the diverse product-base have been the key ingredients of the Mauritius success story. Although Mauritius is better known as a gateway for the structuring of investments into India and increasingly Africa, it has also grown to become a leading jurisdiction for private client services in the region. To date, Mauritius has concluded 45 tax treaties.
Other factors making Mauritius an ideal investment hub are its strategic geographical location in the Indian ocean and favourable time zone (GMT+4), its large multilingual pool of highly capable and skilled workforce, the state-of-the-art infrastructure with high internet connectivity and modern port and airport facilities.
2. What have been the key growth sectors and market opportunities of the last twelve months?
The key growth sectors in 2016 were real estate activities; financial and insurance activities; manufacturing and wholesale & retail trade; and accommodation and food service activities; information and communication technology. According to the data release report of the Bank of Mauritius for 2016, gross investment flows in Mauritius for the first three quarters of 2016 have been estimated at Rs10,592 million. A large proportion of the inflows were channeled to ‘Real estate activities’ (Rs7,566 million), of which direct investment in Integrated Resorts Scheme/Real Estate Schemes projects amounted to Rs6,313 million whereas financial and insurance activities brought Rs2,045 million. The Mauritian economy grew by 3.7% in 2015 – slightly more than the 3.6% recorded in 2014 – and was projected to grow by 3.8% in 2016.
Further, according to the African Economic Outlook Report 2016, Mauritius has one of the best developed financial services sectors in sub-Saharan African (SSA) and this sector is a prominent driver of economic growth in the country. The financial services sector has been growing at an average of 5% over the past three years, with this growth being aided by Mauritius’ favourable tax status, with substantial funds directed through the country before being reinvested in markets such as India and other SSA countries.
3. Are there any exchange controls that affect the flow of capital in your territory?
There is no exchange control in Mauritius. No approval is required for the repatriation of profits, dividends, or capital gains earned by a foreign investor in Mauritius.
4. What is the main advice that you would give to a prospective investor interested in Mauritius?
Doing business in Mauritius is both easy and smooth and complies with best practices in terms of transparency, good governance and ethics. Mauritius is top ranked in Africa and 49th globally in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2016 Report. In 2016, Mauritius again topped the list of African Countries in the Mo Ibrahim Index of Corporate Governance. The country adopted internationally accepted anti-money laundering and terrorist financing legislations and is listed in the OECD white list of offshore jurisdiction.
Mauritius has the right scheme and framework to position itself as the key Financial Centre, Trading hub and Doing Business Platform. This platform rests on two fundamental pillars namely: a credible and substantive international financial centre and a good regional logistics platform.
The open and business friendly economy of Mauritius combined with its modern infrastructures makes it an attractive place for investors. A new business can be set up and be operational within three working days. The country’s investment regulations are in line with the WTO’s agreement on Trade Related Investment Measures.
Mauritius has an attractive fiscal regime with a flat personal and corporate tax rate of 15%. Global Business Companies qualifying as residents of Mauritius for tax purposes are entitled to tax credits reducing their effective tax liability to a maximum of 3%. The country has so far concluded 45 tax treaties and is a party to 28 Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements which provide extra assurance and security for the country’s potential investors. The extensive and expanding network of these treaties confirms the genuineness of Mauritius as a tax-efficient jurisdiction for structuring investment.
BLC Robert & Associates
BLC Robert & Associates