The Export Processing Zone


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The Export Processing Zone (EPZ) was launched in 1970 with only 5 enterprises. In 1998 there were 480. It has been a truly remarkable achievement and has been one of the main engines of development in Mauritius. Its impact on the country has been manifold, enduring and profound.

The creation of EPZ enterprises has been instrumental in absorbing large numbers of unemployed persons who otherwise would never have been gainfully employed. It has made unemployment a thing of the past, at least for now. As a measure of its impact on the labour market, in 1971 employment in that sector stood at 644 and shot to 79,617 in 1997.

Its share of manufacturing has gone from 17.1% in 1976 to 50.6% in 1997, and accordingly its contribution to GDP has risen from 2.9% to 12.5%. It is now a major foreign exchange earner surpassing sugar. In 1971 EPZ earnings were a mere Rs 4 million whilst in 1997 it stood at Rs 23,000 millions.

The EPZ sector has had profound impacts upon the structure of society. Though the mauritian society is still very much patriarchal in nature with women taking second role, industrialisation has enabled women to take a much more active role in society. Thousands of women, for the first time ever, took employment, left the confines of the home and became economically active. This new found economic leverage of women has had many beneficial effects for a second salary into the family has enabled countless families to raise their standard of living to unheard of heights. The effects of industrialisation are still rippling through the local social fabric.

The wearing apparel industry is at the core of the industrial fabric of Mauritius. The main industries which were set up were in the wearing apparel sector, later diversifying into spinning and dyeing of fabrics. Attempts are being made to diversify the industrial basis as it is over reliant on the manufacture of garments. With limited success, unfortunately.

EPZ Export Earnings, Contribution to GDP and Economic Growth

Year

EPZ Export Earnings

(Rs million)

Economic Growth (%)

EPZ Growth

(%)

Contribution to GDP (%)

1971

4.0

4.9

not available

not available

1972

10.7

10.6

not available

not available

1973

45.7

11.6

not available

not available

1974

135.6

10.8

not available

not available

1975

196.4

-0.1

not available

not available

1976

308.6

16.2

not available

2.6

1977

433.4

7.0

8.9

2.7

1978

484.5

4.0

12.4

2.8

1979

620.1

3.6

25.5

3.4

1980

894.5

-10.1

12.9

4.3

1981

1087.1

6.4

11.2

4.8

1982

1257.2

5.8

6.7

4.5

1983

1196.0

0.4

8.9

5.2

1984

2151.0

4.7

32.9

7.2

1985

3272.0

6.8

30.0

9.6

1986

4951.0

8.9

34.9

11.6

1987

6567.0

8.3

22.0

12.7

1988

8179.0

6.2

12.0

12.8

1989

9057.0

4.6

6.0

12.1

1990

11410.0

7.3

7.0

12.0

1991

12136.0

4.4

5.0

11.7

1992

13081.0

6.7

6.0

11.8

1993

15821.0

4.9

6.0

11.9

1994

16533.0

5.3

4.2

11.7

1995

18267.0

5.6

5.0

11.7

1996

21001.0

5.8

7.0

12.0

1997

23000.0

5.0

6.0

12.5

Source: Central Statistical Office

Press Review:

Week-End Interview -François Woo : "Il faut dire aux Mauriciens que le secteur textile est en danger" 1 juin 2003

 OUVRIERES DE LA ZONE FRANCHE Le cri du cur de Mirella (25 janvier 2004)

Last Update: 17th of Febraury 2004

Date on the web: 5th of October 1999