The Free Port

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Introduction: The only deep water harbour of the island, Port Louis, which is also the capital city, is being transformed into a Free-Port Zone. It is hoped that the strategic position of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean will transform the island into a gateway between the African continent and Asia for goods and services.


The Freeport Act 1992 provides for the establishment of free port zones in Mauritius and for the regulation of their operations. It also provides for the setting up of the Mauritius Freeport Authority which is a body corporate to be administered by a Board.

The objects of the Authority are as follows:

The Authority has the power to:


The Freeport zones are defined in a schedule to the Act and are situated in Port Louis and at the International Airport. Any area delimited as a Freeport zone under this Act is considered not to be an area within Mauritius. The Authority ensures that it is properly enclosed, maintained and guarded with appropriate authorised entry and exit points. This prevents evasion of custom duty, import levy and sales tax.


The activities authorised within a Freeport zone are:

Free Port Incentives

The Freeport legislation provides for a liberal and comprehensive incentive package for companies looking for a cost-effective storage, assembly, and redistribution location.

These include:

Mauritius offers several advantages for companies operating form its Freeport. These are the membership of Mauritius to the Indian Ocean Commission, to the Preferential Trade Agreement, the Cross Border Initiative and the Lomé Convention. Furthermore Mauritius is situated relatively close to the African mainland and has had a long history of trade ( though on a modest scale) with countries in the region.

The port and airport infrastructures are of high standard and telecommunications with the rest of the world are swift and reliable.

Economic Advantages For Mauritius

The economic advantages for Mauritius are expected to be manifold, direct and indirect. These include:

Evolution of Freeport activities

Comparison of total trade carried out in the Freeport for the years 93/94 to 95/96




1995/1996 (9 months)

Value (Rs 000's)




Volume (Kgs)





Value (Rs 000's)




Volume (Kgs)




Number of Companies in operation in the Freeport section

Activities1993 1994 1995
Trading17 42 71
Processing/ Assembly 4 2 13
Ship repairs0 1 1
TOTAL21 4585

Main Countries of Importation and Exportation for the Freeport

An analysis of the volume of importation by country indicates that 27% of the goods originate form China, 11% from India and 10% from Thailand. South East Asia countries and South-Africa contribute a fair share of the imports.

As for re-export, Madagascar is the main market absorbing 62% of the total value, while South-Africa and Reunion Island import 8% and 4% respectively of the total.

Textiles constitute 45% of the goods re-exported while electrical goods and chemical products make up 10% and 8% of the total respectively.

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Date on the web: Thursday, January 22, 1998

Last Update: 14th of September 1999