Mauritius GBC1 Company (Off-shore Company)
Under the Companies Act 2001, the Global Business Company Category 1 (GBC1) substituted the old off-shore corporation.
A corporation merged under the prior Companies Act 1984, or a registered subset of an international corporation, was previously allowed to apply for off-shore corporation status under the off-shore Business Activities Act 1992, which diverse several of the terms of the 1984 Act and put up the Mauritius Off-shore Business Activities Authority to regulate the off-shore sector. The 1992 Act detailed the actions which Mauritius Off-shore Business Activities Authority would confirm: airplane rental and funding, authority permitted actions, global consultancy amenities, global employment services, global economic services, global franchising and licencing, global management of resources, global technology services including data processing, global trading, off-shore banking procedures, off-shore management of resources involving pension funds, off-shore insurance procedures, the operation of a headquarters, transport operations including ship management.
Under the Financial Services Development Act 2001, Mauritius Off-shore Business Activities Authority has now been stopped and substituted by a Financial Services Commission. The present regulation was mainly ‘grandfathered’ into the new system.
According to the Financial Services Development Act 2001, a GBC1 is described as a corporation engaged in experienced international small business and which is practiced from within Mauritius with individuals all of whom are citizen outside Mauritius and where business is executed in a currency other than the Mauritian Rupee. A GBC1 may be domestically merged or may be registered as a subset of a oversea corporation. The business of an GBC1 corporation needs to be carried out in foreign currency other than for daily dealings and GBC1 corporations mustn’t conduct business in Mauritius, except to take specialized assistance, employ local labour, and to lease acreage.
A GBC1 corporation is handled as domestic, and has admittance to Mauritius’ double tax agreements, subject to possession of a Tax Residency Certificate. See off-shore Legal and Tax Regimes for more information on the taxation program for off-shore corporations. They pay a somewhat substantial yearly registration fee. Yearly accounts have to be registered, but the GBC1 corporation is excepted from the need to document a yearly return.
GBC1 corporations are fitted to public economical procedures such as fund administration, but for retaining private resources, a GBC2 (International) corporation or an off-shore Trust (see below) is more appropriate.
Mauritius GBC2 (International Company)
The Global Business Company Category 2 (GBC2) substituted the outdated International Company under the Companies Act 2001. The International Company (IC) is the Mauritian comparative of the International Business Company found in many off-shore jurisdictions. It was based mostly on the International Companies Act 1994, but is now instituted under the Companies Act 2001. The GBC2 is perfect for global trading, charging, licensing, global consultancy business and is frequently used to hold investments or other property.
An GBC2 can take any of the forms allowed under the Companies Act 2001. As opposed to the Off-shore Company, the International Company was previously competent to issue deliverer bonds, but this is not anymore allowed. Nevertheless, in other respects the share design is usually flexible:
- there’s no minimum investment demand though no less than one share needs to be issued and paid up;
- Registered bonds and a number of bonds such as favored, exchangeable, and sectional are permitted;
- Bonds may be issued without or with par value;
- Exchangeable preference bonds may be issued;
- Just one stockholder and one manager are important.
Nevertheless, a GBC2 is handled as non-domestic, can’t obtain the benefit of Mauritius’ double tax treaties, and can’t work in the Free Port. Mauritian residents aren’t allowed to possess shares in a GBC2. There are a variety of different limitations on GBC2s; they may not:
- Raise funds by public registration;
- continue on banking or insurance business;
- Poses real property in Mauritius;
- possess or control a collective investment fund;
- Provide nominee services, or provide trustee services to more than 3 trusts.
- GBC2 corporations are not necessary to submit yearly accounts, and privacy may be kept through the use of nominee directors and investors.
Mauritius Limited Life Company
The Limited Life Company (LLC) was presented by the Off-shore Business Activities Regulations 1995. This type isn’t offered to on-shore corporations, but just to GBC 1 and 2 corporations.
The LLC permits the closure of the corporation on the manifestation of specific situations, and has the nature of collaboration under United States tax regulation. It is usually intended for private fund administration or investment reasons.
Unlike the 1984 Act, the Companies Act 2001 provides for LLCs.
Mauritius General Partnership
The general partnership in Mauritius is dictated by the Code de Commerce and is referred to as the Societe en Nom Collectif. Associates may be persons or corporations. In a general partnership, a partner’s responsibility is unrestricted. General partnerships can attain off-shore status, thanks to the Code de Commerce Amendment Act 1985.
The Finance Act 1996 even more enhanced the case of off-shore partnerships, permitting them the advantage of Mauritius’ double tax treaties.
Mauritius Limited Partnership
The limited partnership in Mauritius is dictated by the Code de Commerce and is referred to as the Societe en Commandite Simple. Associates may be persons or corporations. A limited partnership comprises of a number of general partners with unrestricted responsibility, and one or more limited partners, who are responsible just to the degree of their funding contributions. Limited partnerships can attain off-shore status, thanks to the Code de Commerce Amendment Act 1985.
The Finance Act 1996 additionally enhanced the case of off-shore partnerships, permitting them the advantage of Mauritius’ double tax treaties.
Mauritius Sole Proprietorship
The position of sole trader is commonly used in Mauritius, and is dictated by the Code de Commerce. The business title of a sole trader, who has limitless accountability for his obligations, must be documented with the Registrar of Companies, if it is other than the name of the sole trader. A yearly profit must be registered to the Commissioner of Income Tax.
Mauritius Off-shore Trusts are established under the Trusts Act 2001. The program for trusts is founded on British common law. Off-shore trusts are subject to these conditions:
- The settlor mustn’t at any time be a citizen of Mauritius, even though an off-shore corporation can be a settlor;
- a minimum of one trustee has to be citizen in Mauritius; off-shore corporations (which are considered to be domestic) can be trustees if accredited by MOBAA;
- Trust asset mustn’t consist of real property located in Mauritius.
- Trusts pay a one-time registration fee; there is no disclosure or yearly reporting specifications.
The Trusts Act 2001 integrated a thorough modernization of Mauritian trust legislation which is completely explained in off-shore Law.
Protected Cell Companies (PCC)
The Protected Cell Company (PCC) Act 1999 ensures for a corporation integrated for the reasons like conducting a international business activity thanks to the Financial Services Development Act to build cells within its capital for the reasons like separating the property within that cell from statements associated with another possessions. A PCC is dictated by the PCC Act 1999 (as amended), as well as the Companies Act 2001.
A PCC may be directly integrated as regulated by Companies Act 2001. A PCC may be registered as a overseas corporation by way of resumption as a PCC, assuming that the merging and registration demands proposed in the Companies Act 2001 are fulfilled. a present corporation may be transformed into a PCC.
The merging processes for a PCC are comparable to that of a GBC 1 hence, application is directed through the Financial Services Commission.
In terms of the payment of dividends and, normally, taxation, each insured cell is handled individually.
The Protected Cell Companies (Amendment of Schedule) Regulations 2005, were ratified in July, 2005, following numerous models produced by the industry to increase the use of the PCC structure to other enterprise activities apart from CIS and insurance businesses. The new list of competent worldwide organization activities for a PCC is as follows:
- Asset holding;
- Collective investment schemes;
- Insurance business;
- Specialized collective investment schemes;
- Structured finance businesses.
Government stimulants for investment include reduced tariffs for electricity and water, a low rate of 5% registration duty for notarial deeds, a low corporate tax rate of 15%, free repatriation of profits, dividends, and capital, exemption from tax on dividends and capital gains and exemption from customs and sales tax duties on imports of equipment and raw materials. Furthermore, the government has founded the Integrated Resorts Scheme (IRS) to attract wealthy foreigners who are interested to acquire real property for a personal residence in Mauritius of at least 500,000 dollars and more (within a resort approved by the BOI).Mauritius grants a resident permit for living in Mauritius to investor and his or her spouse and dependents.
The Industrial Expansion Act 1993 established Incentive plans for a number of sectors. Incentive companies are the name that is used for those companies which profit of such programs. Mauritian businesses that place their money in the “incentive” companies can look on the invested money as an expense against tax. Several of the major plans have traditionally been as follows:
Pioneer Status Enterprise is one of the incentive schemes that is targeted at activities that include technology skills above the average in Mauritius and likely to improve the industrial and technological development. Stimulates include 15% sales tax, exemption from withholding tax, as well as exemption from customs duties and sales taxes.
Modernization and Expansion Plan’s main objective is to accelerate the modernization of existing companies. Stimulants include enhanced tax credits on the purchase of new equipment, especially anti-pollution gear and exemption from customs duties.
Industrial Building Plan emboldens the construction of industrial facilities for letting with stimulants that include a 15% corporate tax rate, 50% relief land purchase, the disapplication of rent control and exemption from withholding tax.
Hotel Development Certificate’s schemes include exemption from withholding tax for 10 years, 5% sales tax, loans at preferential rates and exemption from customs duties.
After successful a “one-stop-shop” for domestic investors for several years, the administration made and integrated agency for inbound investment in 2001, because inbound investment process in Mauritius was bureaucratic.
Mauritius Private Company Limited by Shares
A private corporation is one which states it is private in its composition and which limits the exchange of its stocks, which can’t be provided to the public. There is a minimum of one and a maximum of twenty five participants.
A private corporation can be excepted or non- excepted: excepted corporations are those which have released share budget and reserves below MR 1m and return below MR 2m. Excepted private corporations are needed to submit their accounts in agreement with accounting procedures and concepts that are acceptable in the conditions and having regard to any demands determined in legislation made under the Companies Act. Excepted status is not disposable to off-shore corporations other than through the GBC2, old International Company, and form.
Mauritius Company Limited by Guarantee
The Company Limited by Guarantee (the mixture Company Limited by Guarantee and Having Shares is no longer allowed), can be utilized just for a non-profit enterprise. The responsibility of the members is restricted to the quantity they have accepted to help the corporation with a minimum of MR 5,000 of guarantees.
Mauritius Public Company Limited by Shares
A public corporation is identified as one which is not a private corporation and which has at the end of its title the term ‘Public Limited Company’ or ‘P.L.C.’. A public corporation needs to have a minimum of 2 participants.
Mauritius Foreign Company
A corporation merged outside Mauritius can register itself in Mauritius and will then be handled for many reasons as a Mauritius-incorporated corporation. Under the old regulation its status was effectively that of a division, but the new Companies Act offers resumption under Mauritian legislation. The subsequent forms must be presented to the Registrar:
- Certified Certificate of Incorporation and Constitution (Memorandum and Articles of Incorporation);
- List of directors and details of the powers of local directors;
- Particulars of registered office in Mauritius;
- Names of two resident persons authorized to act on the company’s behalf in Mauritius, and their declaration.
- Financial accounts have to be lodged with the Registrar within 3 months of the company’s annual general meeting.
Time-zone is 4hrs ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), 9hrs ahead of EST. Mauritius is used by SSR International Airport at Plaisance, 45 kilometers south east of the Port Louis, it’s capital city, from which 10 international airlines are operating. 25 international Shipping lines are using Mauritius capital’s Port Louis.
According to 2008 estimate, Mauritius populates about 1,275,000 people, of which about 150,000 live in capital, Port Louis. English is the official language of this country, although Hindi, Urdu, Creole, French, Bojpoori and Hakka are also used as speaking language. As for ethnical structure, more than half of the population is Indo-Mauritian, and most of the remaining are Creole. Hindu represent about half of the population, of which are 28% Christian and 17% Muslim.
In 1968 Mauritius gained independence from Great Britain, but with it lost Diego Garcia archipelago, which is still a source of parley. In 2006 number of tourists have went up to 825,000 as a result of steady rise over the years, starting from 150,000 tourists in 1985. That was the main reason for a boom in hotel building across the country. Mauritius is a member of the Association of French-speaking nations, the British Commonwealth and the UN.
Mauritius is a sovereign state within the British Commonwealth. The head of state is elected by the National Assembly and is the President of the Republic. The prime minister is the leader of the winning party who is appointed after the elections for the National Assembly, which are held every 5 years, by the President. President also appoints The Council of Ministers on the recommendation of Prime Minister. The leader of opposition party is also appointed by the President. National Assembly is comprised of 62 members who are representing the 21 constituencies.
Mauritius’s the legal system is a mix of French Civil Law with British Common Law. On British Law are based Company and procedural law of Mauritius. Napoleonic code is the main standard for Mauritius Substantive law. The final appeal is the Privy Council in England, while the highest court in the Republic is Supreme Court of Mauritius.
Mauritian economy has been constantly growing at about 5% annually since independence from Britain in 1968. Growth eased off in 2002 to around 2.2%, but rose again to 4.1% in 2003, dipping to 3.1% in 2005. Estimation for 2006 was about 4.3% and in 2007, 5.7%. For 2008 growth is being forecasted up to 6.2%. Sugar makes more than a third of export earnings, as the dominant crop. Industrial, services and tourism sectors are growing more and more with every passing year. In 1970 export processing zone was set up and has been successful ever since, especially in garment manufacturing. Government commenced financial services industry which is now being firmly developed. According to estimates from 2006, GDP per head of $ 13.500 is in the midrange, while, according to estimates from 2007, the unemployment rate of 8.8% is on the high side. Mauritian Rupees (MR) is the official currency of this country. Between 1984 and 1994 Exchange controls were disassembled in stages. In 2008, 1USD was equal to 28MR. In order to be repatriated, investors are required to show the source of funds and must be up to date with local taxation.
Mauritius business and communications infrastructure is well developed and it’s economy is dynamic. Government actively encourages offshore activities and foreign investments through the Board of Investment.
“Onshore” and “Offshore” sectors are two different services. If foreigners want to own shares of the company’s land, they need special permission from the Prime Minister’s office, while citizens of Mauritius are prohibited from participating in offshore activities.
In 2001 legal structure of the country went under a comprehensive modernization, partly to avoid the “offshore” status as such, partly just to catch up with its competitors and partly as a follow up to the decision to sign a Commitment Letter to the OECD, in order to avoid the “blacklisting.”
In 2001 was declared Financial Services Development Act which gave very broad powers to the new Financial Services Commission, which effectively replaced MOBA and took some of the functions of the Central Bank. As the FSC presented sequentially its new supervision system in 2002 and 2003, offshore sector was appealing that it was uncoordinated. Despite that, there were over 25.560 of “Global Business Companies “, until May 2005, more than 2,000 in the previous year.
Mauritius gives a wide range of investment stimulants for foreign investment. In 1992 Free Trade Zones and Freeport were founded which provided up to 100% foreign owned companies. Government discouraged any type of criminal business activities such as money laundering, any trade in weapons or drugs.
The island republic’s productivity increased 5% per year since 1994 and also, had good employment relations. Many Mauritian firms accepted ISO 9000 because they consider that training and service quality is very important in their business. Successful stock exchange was opened in 1989 thanks to good representation of financial and professional services.
In 1970 Mauritius Export Processing Zone (EPZ) was founded, and became one of the country’s biggest employment centers, especially in the garment trade producing. Export Enterprises Certificate must be acquired in order to be set up in the EPZ. Certificate can be obtained in the Ministry of Industry and Technology, which comprises a certain amount of bureaucracy.
Access to African Preferential Trade Area and quota-free access to the European Union is suitability for businesses that are established in the EPZ. Export Services Zone ensures benefits equivalent to those of the EPZ to companies bidding support services to exporters in the EPZ.
In 2001 Mauritian government created plans to create on the island IT free-trade zone. Prime Minister of that period, Anerood Jugnauth, stated that 2001 will be the year remembered as a year of reactivating the Mauritian economy. Also, he said that Mauritius will become an information technology free trade zone with digital parks which will offer all of the newest available technological fixtures to satisfy the needs of the IT business. Government intends to provide a range of budgetary incentives such as 5-year tax holiday for local and foreign companies operating in Mauritius.
The launch of an official center intended to promote Mauritius IT sector as a major center for the foreign companies was also announced by Jugnauth. In hope that they will imitate the success of its Export Processing Zone (EPZ), government assigned $ 100 million for the development of their “cyber- city” in 2002.
25 operators had been attracted, since Ebene Cyber City was in operation from the start of 2006. Under the Freeport Act 1992, which is now annulled and remodeled as Freeport Act 2001, Freeport facilities have been established at the island’s airport and port. Due to deficiency of storage facilities, take-up of the benefits was reduced for some time, although countless licences were issued under the Act. Offered stimulations are largely similar to those available in the EPZ, specified earlier, and in addition there is a cost reduction for port handling and re-exports.
In 1992 free trade zone, known as Mauritius Freeport, was established, as a customs-free trade zone for goods intended for re-export. The main goal of Mauritius government is to promote the country as a regional storage, distribution, marketing, and logistics center for Indian Ocean rim and Southern and Eastern Africa. Mauritius offers privileged access to a market of 380 million customers, representing an potential for imports of USD 90 billion, thanks to its membership in the Common Market for Southern and Eastern Africa (COMESA), Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC).
Freeport is located in 52 hectares near modern container terminal and port facilities and it offers 120,000 square meters of high-end infrastructure, containing of an International Trade Exhibition Center, cold rooms, dry depot, processing units, as well as office space for consolidation, transshipment, storage and processing activities. Airport also disposes with Freeport facilities. Port Luis has become a regional container lighterage center since it has being used by leading shipping lines like P & O Nedloid, MSC and Maersk / Sealand. Activities involved in the Freeport include sorting, cleaning, mixing, warehousing and storage, grading, breaking cargo, less processing, packaging and re-packaging, labeling, handling, freight forwarding, Cash & Carry sales, reshipment and quality control, export-oriented activities based on the port, airport-based export-oriented activities, express courier service, mail order, easy assembly, and inspection services.
Around 450 Freeport companies are engaged in activities like re-export, transfer, installation and minor processing. Freeport imported 447 million dollars, and re-exported 551 million dollars’ worth of goods in 2006. Main products re-exported include: Jewelry and precious stones (2%), chemical and pharmaceutical products (3%), textile yarn and fabrics (5%), seafood (10%), clothing and accessories (11%), machinery and electronic equipment (56%).
United States, United Arab Emirates, France, Madagascar, and Reunion Island were the main export markets for the Freeport in 2006.The Freeport imports goods from many various states. In 2006, main procurers included France, Hungary, India, China, Taiwan, Finland, South Africa and Spain. The prime goods that were imported included electrical goods, telecommunications equipment, food, completed garments, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, textiles and accessories and general merchandise.
For U.S. businessmen are especially interesting Freeport facilities for warehousing, breaking cargo and re-export. These services allow companies to deliver the goods in the container to Mauritius, stores them in secure, inexpensive facilities break cargo and then re-export them in an effective and timely manner to African and Indian Ocean rim locations. Private developers ensure modernized warehouse / logistics facilities, including cold chambers and processing centers.
Merchandise that is determined for export to African and Indian Ocean markets can be put together in the Freeport. Present assembly and processing activities in the Freeport involve: the re-packaging of pharmaceuticals, Jewelry and precious stones, the transformation of fish into fillets, PET plastic bottles and aluminum frame and fittings.
In the Mauritius Freeport there are present three American companies. Bokma Plastics (Mauritius) Ltd, 100% owned by Chesapeake Corporation, with central office in Richmond, started operations in Mauritius in 2002.
Its main object of production are PET performs for the nonalcoholic bottling company in Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar and the Reunion. Casamar (Mauritius) Ltd, a branch of American Casamar Holdings, Inc., opened an office in Mauritius to ensure marketing support for its fishing net repair and assembly activities in the Seychelles. They specialize in the installation and repair of nylon-braided tuna purse seine nets.
In cooperation with the private sector, the GOM is actively promoting Freeport as the seafood center, specifically focusing on the lighter age, distribution, processing and re-export of high merit seafood products using modern Freport and port facilities and logistics. In August 2004 in the port section was founded a One-stop shop to help alleviate administrative approvals associated with seafood industry. In June 2005 was opened a Kualiti des Mascareignes Ltd, processing plant tuna loin with a daily treatment capacity of 300 tons for export to Europe and the United States for final treatment and packaging by a major Mauritian company in partnership with Spanish investors. American company Bumble Bee Foods and Thon des Mascareignes Ltd have an arrangement for tuna supply and processing activities.
The Board of Investment and Airports of Mauritius Ltd., are developing a plan for air load terminal and a dedicated cargo air logistics hub at the airport. Principal activities involve storing, repackaging and labeling, targeted re-export of high value / low volume products, transfer cargo sea-air and air-sea, light assembly operations, freight forwarding services and express courier.
In order to move Mauritius from a reliance on trade preferences to world competitiveness, the government started from July 2005 bold economic reforms. Reform strategy, summarized in the budget for 2006 and 2007 fiscal year, is designed to remove the fiscal weaknesses and to open up the economy, improve the investment conditions, facilitate business, install structural reforms to back up sustainable growth and mobilize foreign direct investment and expertise.
Economic reform results were quick and evident. The economy increased by 5% in 2006 contrary to 2.2% in 2005. GDP grew at 5.8 percent in 2007. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in 2006 amassed more than the cumulative total for the previous four years, up to 229 million dollars. FDI assessment was at 313 million dollars in 2007. The growth of 469 million dollars is expected in 2008. The government’s second budget for year 2007-2008 continued development of liberal economic reforms, emboldened by signs of economic recovery. With this budget, the government presented 15% uniform rate of corporate and personal earning tax, which made Mauritius one of the lowest tax jurisdictions on the globe.
Since 2005 the policy of Mauritius government has been to open up the economy and reduce administrative procedures for people who want to come, live and work in Mauritius. The Business Facilitation Act 2006 discontinued the trade permits and enabled companies to begin activities in no more than three days of its establishment. In addition, work and residence licenses for foreign investors, professionals and self-employed people are merged into a single occupation permit, which now can be issued within three working days. People who have an occupation permit may be qualified for permanent residence after three years. Also, non-citizens with their new residence license allows have the right to retire in the country. Foreigners may acquire property in Mauritius in business purposes.
Business investments in Mauritius are regulated by the Business Facilitation Act of 2006 and Investment Promotion Act 2000. These regulations are consequent with the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Investment Measures. Government of Mauritius does not differentiate between domestic and foreign investment. Foreigners may own 100% of the equity in the local enterprise.
From an economy based on cultivating only sugar, Mauritius transformed into diversified economy based on tourism, export-oriented production and business and financial services sector. During the last few years, Mauritius attracted significant investments from both domestic and foreign investors thank to development of biomedical industry, Information and Communication Technology, Seafood and Marine Industries as well as Hospitality and Property Development. Moreover, thanks to the Government of Mauritius and its strong support, sectors such as Renewable energy, land Oceanic Industry, Agro-processing and biotechnology, Knowledge Industry and Logistics and Distribution will receive and implement a number of projects over the next few years.
Situated between Africa, Asia and Australia in the Indian Ocean, Mauritius has a favorable position for a successful business foundation for international and regional trade. Membership of Mauritius in South Africa Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), which gives privileged access to the market of 380 million customers, grants an opportunity to American companies to use Mauritius as a platform to tap regional markets. Through the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement that is expected to be signed in 2008 by India and Mauritius, American companies will also have a chance to use Mauritius to get privileged access to the Indian market.
Mauritius is industriously looking for foreign investment and is among the most successful and competitive economies in Africa. Mauritius is the first in African continent and 27th internationally for simplicity of doing business, according to World Bank’s 2008 Doing Business report ranks Also; Mauritius is the first on the list of business-friendly states on African continent, according to The Financial Times’ FDI magazine. The goal of the Government of Mauritius is to rank Mauritius among the top ten most business-friendly and investment locations on the globe.
Right to Private Ownership and Establishment
A non-citizen businessman can acquire land in Mauritius only with the prior permission of the Prime Minister, how is defined in Non-citizens (Property Restriction) Act. However, permission of the Prime Minister is not necessary when the land was acquired (i) under the Integrated Resort Plan for purchase of villas, (ii) The lease agreement does not exceed 20 years or (iii) if the approval was acquired through Board of Investment (BOI) to purchase assets for use in his or her work. It is possible to acquire Board of Investment’s approval to obtain immoveable property in the name of his or her business only if a foreign investor is generating through its business an annual traffic in surplus of Rs 3 million (around 94,000 dollars).
Protection of Property Rights
Property privileges are trustworthy. Mauritius maintains an objective and refined legal system based on both British common law and Napoleonic code. All tangible assets are protected with the system. Copyrights Act of 1997 and the Patents, Industrial Designs and Trade Marks Act of 2002, which are in coordination with international norms, ensure that all Intellectual property rights are protected,. Mauritius is a party to the Bern and Paris conventions for the protection of industrial property and the Universal Copyright Convention and has a membership in the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
As an answer to the growth in the production and trade of counterfeit merchandise, such as Ralph Lauren shirts, government brought on The Patents, Industrial Designs and Trade Marks Act of 2002. Polo Ralph Lauren (PRL) successfully sued the local producers and traders of PRL counterfeit merchandise in the Mauritian courts, which resulted with detention of counterfeit operations. Protection of brands, designs and technological inventions is guaranteed with the new trademark and patent laws which are in accordance with the WTO Trade-Related Aspects of Industrial Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement. Also, these laws protect all renowned international brands, regardless of whether they are registered in Mauritius or not. The brand is originally registered for 10 years and can be renewed for next period of 10 years. Approval of patent is possible for 20 years, after which it is impossible to be renewed.
Although Police and Customs authorities enforce copyrights regulations, the trademark enforcement is weak. Police are not taking action against trademark violators because State Law Office advised that trademark enforcement is not under their working duty , despite the fact that infringement of trademarks is by law a criminal offence, according to a leading IPR law firm. Moreover, the Government of Mauritius’ Industrial Property Office (IPO), which also has authority to enforce trademarks, has no enforcement unit what is the reason why they didn’t conduct any enforcement since its foundation. Only in cases where a brand owner has a commercial agent in Mauritius, is enforcement probable under the Prevention of Unfair Practices (Industrial Property) Act 2002, based on unfair competition instead of trademark offence.
Transparency of the Regulatory System
With free market economy, Mauritius has realized its success. Mauritius leads Sub-Saharan Africa in economical flexibility, accordingly to the American Heritage Foundation Wall Street Journal yearly study of 157 countries around the globe. Mauritius also has a flexible government and private sector dialogue tradition which allows the private sector to state its opinions on the development strategy of the country. Key factor in this regard is Joint Economic Council. The government made radical changes in taxes, investment, regulations and trade over the past two years, everything in order to simplify the income tax framework for business. Many bureaucratic hindrances have been revoked such as Trade licenses. Enterprises in Mauritius are governed by the Companies Act of 2001, which includes the best international practices and promote fairness, accountability and transparency. The government also enacted the Prevention of Terrorism Act, the Financial Intelligence and Anti-Money Laundering Act and the Prevention of Corruption Act in order to fight terrorist financing and money laundering.
The National Assembly applied a new and much more transparent Public Procurement Bill in December 2006, which is planned to enter into power on 17 January 2008. The aim of the law, which cancels and replaces the Central Tender Board Act, is to establish a Central Procurement Board to cater for all types of procurement by public authorities. Approved by the World Bank, this bill provides for the institution of a Procurement Policy Office accountable for forming policies and issue instructions for the operation of a transparent and effective public procurement system. Provision is additionally designed to make it easy for a buyer or probable buyer to challenge the procurement proceedings of a public institution at any time and request the Chief Executive Officer of the public institution to take into consideration his objection and, where acceptable, take helpful measures. Independent Review Panel is also an establishment designed by the bill where all applications against judgments of a Chief Executive Officer may be brought. Therefore, a shortened two-tier program is available to dissatisfied individuals to find solution
In December 2007, a Competition Bill was accepted in Parliament to encourage rivalry, stop monopolistic pricing, and prohibit collaboration in end user markets. Monopoly, and more commonly, collaboration between dealers are regnant in the national financial system. Budget for 2007-08 has already earmarked resources for the organizing of the Competition Commission that will manage the competition strategy.
Political and social stability and worldwide acknowledgement for its well-established democracy presents Mauritius’ long tradition. However, in February 1999, inter-ethnic tensions led to 4 days of rioting, resulting the death of a famous minority musician in police custody. From then on, Governments have sought to calm down ethnic tensions and stress national unity. Political abuse and civil riot are rare. In 1996, 3 governmental activists were murdered. In December 2000, a number of members of a small political party and its leader were arrested and charged with this crime. Because he was considered responsible, one of them was judged to 21 years imprisonment. General elections in 2000 and 2005 brought a difference in government in each case and went by with no incident.
Mauritius has a reputation of Africa’s least corrupt countries. Prevention of Corruption Act was implemented by the government in 2002 which resulted in establishing of an Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) a couple of months later. Independent Commission against Corruption has the authority to identify and investigate corruption and money laundering criminal acts and can also forfeit the earnings of money laundering and corruption. Mauritius’ efficiency in fight with illegal activities decreased in 2007, after a registering a considerable improvement in perceived levels of corruption in the 2006 Corruption Perceptions Index of Transparency International. In sub-Saharan Africa, it dropped from 2nd to 4th position. The index inspects perceptions of public-sector corruption in 180 countries. It rates countries from zero, which indicates a very high level of identified corruption to 10, the lowest level. Mauritius’ result fallen from five.1 in 2006 to 4.7 in 2007. Still corruption is not considered as a barrier to international direct investment.
In the latest study of standards of national governance, Mauritius attained the best rating in sub-Saharan Africa. Mauritius was ranked as the best-run state in Africa by the 2007 Ibrahim Index of African Governance published by the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Mauritius has experienced an enormous progress over the previous decades. It has diversified the country’s financial activities into, textile and garments industry, tourism and economical services, starting from a monocarp economy, based largely on sugar.
The country has an experienced work force and an excellent infrastructure therefore bringing in international Direct Investment. The standard economical increase was 5.6% over the last three years. The income per Capita has achieved four thousand US Dollars. Consequently the standard of living has gone up. The country has now a life span rate of 71. 4 years, an adult literacy rate of 83%.
The Government has taken a couple of measures to manage globalization and a new economic environment. Highly valuable, capital intense and knowledge-based activities are on the preference list. The Information Technology area is going through quick modifications in order to be suitable for the next millennium. The goal is to make Mauritius a center for high-tech and software services, which can be exported.
The other areas particularly Agriculture, Textile, Tourism, Agriculture and Financial services are also going through changes in a good direction.
Mauritius had a complete work force of 552, 600, which includes 354, 600 males and 198, 000 females in September 2007. Total employment stood at 507, 500, including 21, 000 international employees, generally from China, India, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and South Africa, and largely working at textile industrial facilities but also in construction, tuna canning, and resort and catering sectors. The unemployment rate decreased to 8.8% in 2007, unlike in June 2006 when it reached 9.8%, representing about 48,000 unemployed.
The Government of Mauritius administratively determines minimal salaries, which differ according to the sector of employment, through the National Remuneration Board (NRB), and it requires minimal salary raises yearly based on inflation. Nevertheless the majority of trade unions negotiate salaries greater than those established by the NRB. The National Remuneration Board issues Remuneration Orders for more than 90% of the labor force in the private sector.
The Government of Mauritius moved ahead with some substantial workforce market changes, in 2007. Also the government established the National Pay Council (NPC) in replacement of the original ternary council that used to assemble once annually to determine the yearly salary payment based on the inflation rate, in April. From now on the National Pay Council will make sure that the level of payment demonstrates not just the rise in living expenses but also other financial circumstances such as productiveness and the ability to pay.
The Minister of Labor, Industrial Relations, and Employment publicized the draft Employment Relations Bill and the Employment Rights Bill for open public discussion prior to their introduction in Parliament, in September 2007. The new bills’ primary aims are to modify the present work regulations and liberalize the labor market. In the review of these bills, ILO is supporting the government. The Ministry of Labor introduced the Labor Market Information System which offers an online skill-based complementing support for both companies and people looking for work, in December 2007. Earnings are small by Western specifications but high by most Asian and African requirements. Factory personnel in the Export Processing Zone usually earn between 200-250 dollars monthly. Earnings between 700-1,000 dollars monthly are usual for middle managers. Fringe benefits, including transfer and meal allowances, bonuses, and paid leave, represent about 25 to 30% of the fundamental salaries of laborers.
Labor-management relations are usually beneficial, even though Mauritius has an active trade union movement. Unionized workers, which account for fewer than 25% of the labor force, behave sensibly and almost never interrupt business. Since 1979 there has not been a serious strike. Unions have the legal right to strike, thanks to Industrial Relations Act. However, the government attempts to appropriate strikes via a strategy which encourages arrangement through settlement or arbitration by the Permanent Arbitration Tribunal and the National Remuneration Board. Mauritius Labor Act of 1975 defends laborers privileges. Mauritius participates actively in the yearly ILO meeting in Geneva and follows to ILO conferences defending employee legal rights.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) raised strongly in 2006, after a few years of decrease, due to significant economic reform steps utilized by the government to open up the economy, help business, and augments the investment environment. Foreign Direct Investment amplified to 313 million dollars in 2007 from 229 million dollars in 2006, and is anticipated to achieve 469 million dollars in 2008.