The setting up of the Mauritius Freeport in 1992 was aimed primarily at developing Mauritius into a competitive logistics and distribution centre for international trade. It has over the years grown into a thriving business platform and is home to global operators. The Freeport today hosts 231 active operators, 8 third party freeport developers, 3 private freeport developers and employs around 3,500 people. The Mauritius Freeport contributes to about 0.6% to our GDP and has so far attracted close to MUR 7 billion of investments since its inception. The built-up space has also increased from 5,000m2 in 1993 to 300,000m2 in 2018.
The continued development of Freeport projects spurred the economic activities of the Freeport with trade volume rising from 347,000 tons in 2013 to 542,000 tons in 2018 and boosting trade value from MUR 23 billion and to MUR 44 billion in the same period. Today, the Mauritius Freeport provides a modern integrated marketing, distribution and logistics platform that offers a wide range of products in terms of its facilities for intra and extra regional trade. The Freeport hosts companies involved in regional trade, break bulk operations, simple assembly and transformation, LPG storage and re-export, processing of seafood products for leading global markets in the EU, the US and Far East.
Strategically located in the Indian Ocean, the Mauritius Freeport is leveraging on the ever-growing trade potential between Asia/Australia and Africa. Operators can avail themselves of the trade agreements and tax treaties Mauritius has signed with the numerous African States and as Member of the COMESA and SADC regional blocs. The Government is fully committed to re-dynamize the Mauritius Freeport and has taken several measures to further boost this sector. The measures enunciated in the Budget 2018-2019 are grafted on those announced in last year's budget, reflecting a continuation of the Government's vision. Besides, to adhere to international best practices and compliance standards, the Freeport regime has been aligned with the OECD, EU and WTO requirements.
In a view to further strengthen the port competitiveness, the Mauritius Port Master Plan has set the following key objectives;
- To increase Container Terminal capacity to 1 million TEUs by 2020, followed by an additional 1.5 million TEUs by 2030, with the coming into operation of the Island Container Terminal.
- To improve productivity to 29 moves per hour by 2020 and to 35 moves per hour by 2030.
The aim is to increase sea connectivity with other African ports, create jobs, develop a dedicated cruise terminal, fishing port and bunkering hub.