GDP: $12.9 billion/$10,800 per capita.
GDP Change: +5.2 percent.
Population: 1.2 million.
Unemployment: 8.6 percent.
Textile & Apparel Exports to U.S.: $255.3 million, up 5.9 percent *.
Key Products: Women’s cotton slacks, women’s cotton woven and knitted blouses.
Currency: 28.4 rupees = $1 U.S.
Major Companies: Floreal Knitwear, Compagnie Maurcienne de Textile.
The Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius is a key center for sub-Saharan Africa’s growing textiles and apparel industry. It has attracted extensive foreign investment, particularly from Hong Kong-based companies, and soft goods have become its major export, displacing the sugar crop that for decades was a key source of foreign currency.
Mauritius, a parliamentary democracy, is a beneficiary of the African Growth & Opportunity Act, which entitles its exports of textiles and apparel to enter the U.S. free of quota and duty. The nation is relatively prosperous, with its per capita GDP of $10,800 more than double that of most other leading exporters in the region, with the notable exception of South Africa. That is one reason its exports haven’t shot up as sharply since AGOA took effect, though the island’s small size — at 788 square miles, it’s about 11 times the size of Washington, D.C. — has also limited the industry’s ability to grow quickly. However, many of its manufacturers also have factories on neighboring Madagascar and continental Africa, which increases their chance of benefiting from AGOA.
Editor’s Note: Country Focus is a new WWD feature offering an economic and demographic snapshot of nations in the news.
* For the 12 months ended November 2002, compared with the corresponding year-ago period.
SOURCES: THE CIA WORLD FACTBOOK, U.S. COMMERCE DEPARTMENT, OANDA.COM