Strategically located in the Indian Ocean, at the crossroads of international investments, throughout the last decade Mauritius has forged a strong reputation as a premier international financial centre. The Mauritian authorities have been extremely prudent in adopting worldclass law and regulations with a touch of innovation, resulting in a financial services industry that has quickly matured and embraced the highest standards of international practice. Additionally, the centre benefits from low taxation, an extensive tax treaty network, market access, innovative financial products, and a pool of skilled professionals.
It is not surprising, therefore, that financial services is the sector which has enjoyed the highest growth rate over recent years, and currently is the main pillar of the Mauritian economy, contributing around 11 per cent to the gross domestic product (GDP).
The Global Business Platform (GBC)
The Mauritius International Financial Centre offers quality services through its modern and innovative legal framework. As a global business platform, Mauritius offers investors a diverse product base for planning and optimisation of benefits. GBCs can be organised as protected cell companies (PCCs), private trust companies (PTCs), trusts and societies (partnerships) amongst others. GBC companies benefit from low to nil taxation, and an entity holding a GBC ‘category 1’ licence can benefit from the 33 Double Tax Avoidance Treaties (DTAs) that Mauritius has ratified with other countries. There are presently approximately 33,000 entities engaged in global business in Mauritius, and 514 funds licensed by the Financial Services Commission with a net asset value of US$43.04 billion (as at June 2007).
Provision of Financial Services
There is enormous growth potential for investors wishing to establish a presence in Mauritius in order to provide banking, securities, insurance, or fiduciary services. The business architecture of Mauritius has been thoroughly redesigned to offer investors a hassle-free business environment to start and operate an economic activity. The corporate tax rate for businesses operating in the domestic sector is now at the attractive rate of 15 per cent. Since 1 October, 2006, foreigners can obtain within three working days an occupation permit to work and reside in Mauritius.
The success of Mauritius as a centre for the provision of financial services depends upon the maintenance of its reputation for probity. Mauritius prides itself on having a robust regulatory framework within a business-friendly environment. It fully supports international initiatives (such as FATF, Basel, IOSCO, IAIS) aimed at preventing the jurisdiction from being used for money laundering and terrorist financing, and it is also worth noting that Mauritius has never been blacklisted. In addition, the two regulators for the Financial Services Sector, namely the Bank of Mauritius and the Financial Services Commission, are dedicated to the supervision of the bank and non-bank financial services sector.
Other Salient Features
Mauritius is a worldwide reference for political stability, with its constitution modelled on the British parliamentary system; the highest court of appeal is the Privy Council of the United Kingdom. Mauritius offers a diligent, educated, multilingual and experienced professional labour force, and the literacy rate is currently 86 per cent. Mauritius also benefits from low cost of operations, and offers a series of attractive fiscal incentives, such as no tax on dividends, no withholding tax on interest, royalties and dividends, no estate duty, no inheritance, wealth or gift taxes, no stamp duties, and no registration duties or levies.
It is accepted that, in this era of global competition, Mauritius needs to constantly innovate and to keep at pace, and maintain its competitive edge. Consequently, the government has recently drafted a set of new legislation and regulations to expand the scope and depth of services that may be offered:
Initiatives on the regulatory front, coupled with the measures and policies implemented by the government, and continued innovation, have contributed to making Mauritius a financial platform that cannot be overlooked by investors.
The country provides exciting opportunities to do business in a friendly and safe environment, and should certainly be considered by entrepreneurs looking at doing business in the Mauritius International Financial Centre.
Board of Investment, Mauritius