The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Consumer Protection, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, and UNCTAD are jointly collaborating to devise an Industrial strategy and Policy for Mauritius which will help address the current challenges in the manufacturing sector.
In that context, a two-day workshop on "Transforming Mauritius: Policies to Foster Industrialisation and Development", opened today at Le Labourdonnais Waterfront Hotel in Port Louis in the presence of the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Consumer Protection, Mr Ashit Gungah, the Senior Economist from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Mr P. Fortunato, and other personalities.
Representatives from the public and private sectors as well as the academia are participating in the event. The workshop aims at enabling Mauritius to come up with major guidelines and components of an industrial policy for the years to come and to identify opportunities of regional value chains in the agro-processing, textile, jewellery and pharmaceutical sectors.
At the very outset, Minister Gungah highlighted that the outcomes of the workshop will have a significant impact on the industrial landscape and economic advancement of Mauritius. The reason, he pointed out, is due to the fact that the local manufacturing sector has reached a crossroad and requires a major overhauling to be able to navigate smoothly in the years to come.
Over the years, Mr Gungah recalled, the comparative advantage acquired by the manufacturing sector has started to fade with the dismantling of trade preferences, rising cost of production, and fierce competition from low cost producing countries. For him, several international factors have also resulted in this downward trend such as trade tension between certain super powers, imposition of new tariffs by some countries, weaker economic global growth, and volatility in financial markets and tighter monetary conditions in developed countries. Hence the need, he indicated, for a new growth trajectory for the manufacturing sector in the years to come.
Speaking about the need to transit to a higher level of industrial development, the Minister underlined that Mauritius has already embarked in the diversification of its manufacturing sector with sub-sectors like food processing, jewellery and medical devices. The manufacturing sector, he underlined, accounts for 13,4% of GDP and has an important impact on non-manufacturing services such as logistics, transport, insurance, freight, laboratory services and IT.
Furthermore, Mr Gungah dwelt on the need to adopt a new model for the manufacturing sector which is focused on new technologies such as additive manufacturing, industrial Internet of Things and soft robotics. Enterprises cannot remain complacent to these new technologies which have the power to transform radically our industrial landscape, he stated.
For his part, the Senior Economist from UNCTAD, Mr Fortunato, underlined that Mauritius is a model of growth in the region, having sustained a 5% growth rate for over 40 years. However, he pointed out the manufacturing sector is facing several challenges namely the country's dependency on external markets, loss of competitiveness, and deficiency in technologies to produce value-added products. Hence the need to devise international trade policies as well as an Industrial Policy based on innovation, he stated.
About the workshop
The two-day workshop is providing an opportunity for participants to acquire knowledge about new challenges in industrial policy formulation, especially in the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Resource persons are from UNCTAD, Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS), Competition Commission of South Africa and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). The themes being discussed include: Structural transformation and Industrial policy; Industrial policy in a digital world; Evolution of industrial policy in Mauritius; Industrial strategy and policy of Mauritius; Regional integration of Mauritius in SADC and other Regional Value Chains.