Mauritius flag Mauritius: Economic and Political Overview

The economic context of Mauritius

Economic Indicators

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

Mauritius has had low but steady growth rates over the last few years (averaging 3.8% during 2015–19) and is among the most dynamic economies in Sub-Saharan Africa. Nevertheless, the COVID-19-induced crisis took a severe toll on the Mauritian economy: although the country did not record many cases, the GDP plummeted by an estimated 14.9% in 2020 (IMF), mostly due to the international travel restrictions which prompted a collapse in tourism arrivals (the sector contributes around one-fifth of GDP and accounts for 22% of employment with significant spillover effects on the whole economy – African Development Bank). Real GDP growth bounced back to 4% in 2021, led by a strong rebound in construction and manufacturing, while the tourism sector was still subdued. For 2022, the IMF estimated growth at 8.3% thanks to the full recovery of the tourism sector (the number of tourist arrivals increased to 997,290, from 179,780 one year earlier), whereas growth is projected at 4.6% in 2023. Mauritius' economy is expected to converge to its pre-pandemic trend growth of 3-3.5% by 2025 (IMF).

The country had been progressively reducing its debt-to-GDP ratio in recent years, although the support measures put in place to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic weighed on public finances. After peaking at 99.2% of GDP in 2020, public debt decreased to 90.9% in 2022 and is expected to follow a downward trend over the forecast horizon, hovering around 90% in 2023 and 2024. However, such debt is almost exclusively denominated in local currency and three-quarters of it is domestic. Furthermore, to reduce the debt-to-GDP ratio and improve the country's fiscal outlook, the government has developed a strategy that involves selling off non-strategic assets to quickly pay down debt and decrease borrowing needs and is aiming to enhance the debt profile through various debt management measures. Similarly, the budget deficit is set to reduce from an estimated level of -6.1% of GDP in FY2021/22 to -4.9% in FY 2022/23 despite the fact that VAT and excises taxes revenues stood below targets due to the prolonged closure of borders and entertainment venues as well as lower-than-expected tourist arrivals, partially compensated by greater financing from state-owned enterprises (additional 1.3% of GDP according to the IMF). The FY2022/23 budget projects revenues at MUR 150 billion as opposed to MUR 172.9 billion in expenditure, and focuses on three main objectives: food security, sustainable economy and social protection. As almost all energy and consumer goods are imported, the inflation rate spiked to 10.5% in 2022 (IMF's latest estimates), also influenced by the depreciation of the local currency. The IMF expects inflationary pressures to gradually ease through 2023 and 2024 (to 9.5% and 6.5%, respectively). Overall, the country’s economy is driven by the services sector, which accounts for around 66.9% of GDP, with tourism (catering, accommodation, leisure, etc.) and financial services being the most vital sectors for the economy. The country's economy is diversified and also relies on its offshore financial activity, textile industry and production of sugarcane. Medical tourism, outsourcing, renewable energies, new technologies and the luxury industries are among the developing sectors. Overall, the industrial sector accounts for 18.3% of GDP, while the agricultural sector contributes around 3.3% (World Bank). Furthermore, Mauritius enjoys political stability.

The island of Mauritius has made substantial progress in its campaign for social equality and poverty reduction and represents an exemplary model of development. The island is classified as an upper-middle-income country by the World Bank, with a high Human Development Index, and is seeking to become a high-income country within the next decade. According to the IMF, GDP per capita (PPP) reached USD 29,164 in 2023, the second-highest in Africa after Seychelles. Data by Statistics Mauritius show that the unemployment rate for the fourth quarter of 2022 was estimated at 6.8%, compared to 8.1% in the corresponding period of the previous year. Female labour participation is significantly low compared to male labour participation and youth unemployment stands at around 25%.

 
Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 12.9014.8216.1117.3018.15
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) 8.75.13.83.43.4
GDP per Capita (USD) 10,22711,75212,77313,72414,395
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -2.2-3.2-3.7-2.7-2.6
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 83.179.778.978.879.5
Inflation Rate (%) n/a7.86.57.44.9
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labour Force) 7.77.47.37.37.3
Current Account (billions USD) -1.49-0.92-0.66-0.81-0.96
Current Account (in % of GDP) -11.5-6.2-4.1-4.7-5.3

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database, October 2021

Main Sectors of Industry

The agricultural sector is relatively small, accounting for 3.3% of GDP and around 6% of total employment (World Bank, latest data available). Most of the country’s arable land is cultivated with sugar cane, which is by far Mauritius’ largest crop (2.7 million tonnes produced per year from 41,897 ha of harvested area, against 7,992 ha destined for other food crops and 6,853 destined to tea). In fact, Mauritius has a food self-sufficiency ratio of less than 30% and imports many of its essential food requirements. Products imported include rice, meat and fish, certain fruits (oranges, mandarins, and grapes), pulses, milk and dairy products, fresh and frozen vegetables, coffee, tea and spices, cereals, oil, beverages, wheat, and food preparations.

The industry sector has been growing in importance, now contributing 18.3% of GDP and 24% of employment. The Mauritian manufacturing sector – which is estimated to account for 12% of GDP by the World Bank - has traditionally been dominated by textiles and sugar production. The former developed from basic productions to a vertically integrated subsector, turning Mauritius into the textile hub of excellence in Southern Eastern Africa. According to the latest figures from Statistics Mauritius, in the period Oct 2021-Sep 2022, the overall real industrial output grew by 8.5%.

The tertiary sector dominates the country’s economy, services being the main employer (70% of the workforce) and the largest contributor to GDP (66.9%). The financial services sector is a core part of the economy, with a GDP contribution of 13.1%, which includes 6.6% in financial intermediation, 2.1% in insurance activities and 0.6% in financial leasing and other credit-granting activities (Mauritius International Financial Centre). The tourism sector is also pivotal: before the pandemic, Mauritius attracted 1.4 million tourists, but the numbers dropped drastically following the COVID-19 restrictions. In 2022, it showed signs of recovery, with the country receiving 376,556 tourists in the first semester of 2022 (against 3,225 in the same period one year earlier).

 
Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 5.1 23.6 71.2
Value Added (in % of GDP) 3.4 18.4 65.8
Value Added (Annual % Change) 3.4 5.6 10.6

Source: World Bank, Latest Available Data. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 

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Indicator of Economic Freedom

Definition:

The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.}}

Score:
77/100
World Rank:
13
Regional Rank:
1

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation

 
 

Country Risk

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Latest Update: December 2023

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