[Watch] Why major brands are looking closely at this island nation

And why South African businesses should jump on the bandwagon.

Over the past decade, the island nation of Mauritius has implemented a turnaround strategy to drive international exports and diversify its economy. Having invested in design skills and manufacturing technology in particular, Mauritian textile and fashion producers now supply big fashion brands, primarily in the Eurozone and the US.

This is according to Arvind Radhakrishna, CEO of Enterprise Mauritius, an export promotion body. Earlier this month, 40 Mauritian textile and apparel manufacturers visited Johannesburg and Durban to showcase Mauritian manufacturing work to South African buyers and designers. According to Radhakrishna, Mauritian businesses have stepped up exports to South Africa in recent years, with South Africa now accounting for around 24% of the country’s textile exports.

Design Trends Forum

In fact, the Mauritian government’s determination to get South African designers to see why many top international brands  are sourcing and manufacturing in Mauritius, is exemplified by events like the Trend Forum, being held from March 31 to April 1 this year in Mauritius.  Leading international trend forecasting agencies will present the latest Spring/Summer 2017 trends followed by interactive workshops with the participants. This Trend Forum seeks to inspire designers and manufacturers to create their collections and innovate in creating competitive products. Various themes such as key products, design concepts and colours will be thoroughly dealt with to assist manufacturers and designers to develop a competitive edge.

Made with Care

Given the global trend toward quality and responsible sourcing, Mauritian manufacturers are focusing on the brand identity “Mauritius: Made With Care”. Radhakrishna says that this approach to quality in raw materials and finished goods has resulted in major name brands such as Calvin Klein, Adidas, Woolworths, Tommy Hilfiger, Puma, Harrods, River Island and Levi’s sourcing from Mauritian suppliers. 

“South African businesses are increasingly seeing the benefits of partnering with Mauritian business as a vertically integrated sourcing destination, due in part to the zero tax rating,” he adds. “Over the years we have transformed the island into a major producer of goods for exports. The whole world has been talking about Mauritius having achieved the ‘first economic miracle’.”

He notes that Mauritius was at a time the second biggest exporter of knitwear in the world, and today, South Africa is the fourth largest importer of the county’s goods.

“Exports from Mauritius to South Africa have increased by 400% over the past seven years, and this figure is set to increase in the future…business is bound to grow.”

Investor Friendly

For foreign investors, Radhakrishna says that Mauritius has a very “investor friendly” regulatory framework, and notes that the government is focused on providing an attractive scheme of incentives. This strategy, in his view, appears to be working.

While the country doesn’t offer citizenship per se, those investing above 500 000 USD can get residency.

“There is a strong drive to attract investors in the manufacturing sector, and in areas including pharmaceuticals, agriculture, apparel, footwear, electronics, leather, etc,” he adds.

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