An island country in the Indian Ocean near Africa’s southeastern coastline, the Republic of Mauritius shipped US$1.9 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount represents a -23.6% decline since 2015 and a -5.2% slowdown from 2018 to 2019.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2019, the Mauritian rupee depreciated by -1.2% against the US dollar since 2015 and deteriorated by -4.5% from 2018 to 2019. Costa Rica’s weaker local currency makes its exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 76.6% of products exported from Mauritius were bought by importers in: France (12.6% of the global total), United Kingdom (11.1%), United States (10.8%), South Africa (10.4%), Madagascar (7%), Italy (5.5%), Spain (4.4%), Vietnam (4%), Netherlands (3.9%), Kenya (2.9%), Germany (2.1%) and Singapore (1.8%).
From a continental perspective, 47.8% of Mauritian exports by value were delivered to European countries while 23.8% were sold to importers in Africa. Mauritius shipped another 16.2% worth of goods to Asia, with 11.2% going to North America. Tinier percentages went to Oceania led by Australia (0.9%) and Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (0.2%).
Given Mauritius’ population of 1.3 million people, its total $1.9 billion in 2019 exports translates to roughly $1,500 for every resident in the African island country.
Mauritius’ Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Mauritian global shipments during 2019 at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Mauritius.
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): US$283.2 million (15.1% of total exports)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $260.8 million (13.9%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $253.9 million (13.5%)
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: $192.4 million (10.3%)
- Fish: $123.5 million (6.6%)
- Gems, precious metals: $116.2 million (6.2%)
- Cotton: $59.3 million (3.2%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $45.9 million (2.4%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $45 million (2.4%)
- Knit or crochet fabric: $38.1 million (2%)
Mauritius’ top 10 exports accounted for about three-quarters (75.6%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Sugar including sugar confectionery was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 32.1% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales was cotton via a 32.1% gain. Mauritius’ shipments of knit or crochet fabric posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 11.5%.
The leading decliner among Mauritius’ top 10 export categories was fish thanks to its -18.2% drop year over year.
Drilling down to 4-digit HTS codes, the most valuable export goods from Mauritius are fish including preserved or prepared caviar (13.5% of global total). Sugar (10.2%) finished ahead of unknitted and uncrocheted men’s shirts (6.9%), knitted or crocheted t-shirts and vests (6.2%), knitted or crocheted men’s suits and trousers (5.3%), frozen whole fish (5%), unmounted diamonds (4.9%), unknitted and uncrocheted women’s clothing (2.5%) then knitted or crocheted jerseys and pullovers (2.1%).
The following types of Mauritian product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): US$224.3 million (Down by -14.7% since 2018)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $219.7 million (Down by -17.4%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $210 million (Down by -14.1%)
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: $150.3 million (Up by 17.8%)
- Knit or crochet fabric: $31.2 million (Up by 24%)
- Copper: $4.8 million (Up by 566.4%)
- Collector items, art, antiques: $3.6 million (Down by -155.6%)
- Miscellaneous animal-origin products: $1.5 million (Down by -203.5%)
- Woodpulp: $1.1 million (Down by -20.9%)
- Live animals: $282,000 (Down by -107.8%)
Mauritius has notably positive net exports in the international trade of clothing and accessories. In turn, these cashflows indicate Mauritius’s strong competitive advantages under the knit or crochet clothing and accessories product category.
Overall, Mauritius incurred a -$3.7 billion trade deficit for 2019 up by 2.1% from -$3.6 billion in red ink one year earlier.
Below are exports from Mauritius that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Mauritius’s goods trail Mauritian importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$1 billion (Down by -7.7% since 2018)
- Machinery including computers: -$415.8 million (Up by 6.9%)
- Vehicles: -$401.5 million (Up by 4.9%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$376.4 million (Down by -11.5%)
- Fish: -$138.7 million (Down by -0.8%)
- Cereals: -$119.2 million (Up by 10.4%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$118.4 million (Up by 17.9%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$118.2 million (Up by 25.4%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$111.7 million (Down by -4.1%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: -$106.9 million (Down by -2.3%)
Mauritius has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the mineral fuels-related products category, particularly for processed petroleum oils, petroleum gas then coal.
Mauritian Export Companies
Not one Mauritian corporation ranks among the Forbes Global 2000 list.
Wikipedia does list some exports-related companies from Mauritius. Selected examples are shown below:
- Emtel (telecommunications)
- ENL Group (conglomerate)
- Essar Energy (oil, gas)
- Mauritius Telecom (telecommunications)
- Phoenix Beverages (brewery)
- State Bank of Mauritius (commercial bank)
In macroeconomic terms, Mauritius’ total exported goods represent 5.9% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($31.7 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 5.9% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 6.5% for 2018. Those percentages suggest a decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Mauritius’ total economic performance albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Mauritius’ average unemployment rate was 6.9% at 2019 same as in 2018, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Mauritius’ capital city is Port Louis.
See also South Africa’s Top 10 Exports, Burkina Faso’s Top 10 Exports and Top African Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook report on Africa: Mauritius. Accessed on April 18, 2020
Forbes 2019 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on April 18, 2020
Foreign Trade , United States Census Bureau. Accessed on April 18, 2020
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on April 18, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on April 18, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on April 18, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on April 18, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on April 18, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Mauritius. Accessed on April 18, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on April 18, 2020
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Port Louis, Mauritius. Accessed on April 18, 2020