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November 2014 - The Mauritius Freeport: A dynamic logistics platform between Africa & Asia

Dear Valued Investors,

Since the beginning of the year, our monthly newsletters have covered topics of significant interest to the investor community such as biotechnology, financial services, competitiveness, trade, entrepreneurship and the expanded Africa strategy while highlighting at the same time investment opportunities. Our November edition puts the spotlight on the Freeport sector which has brought in its wake the emergence of a dynamic and professional logistics industry. Indeed, logistics have been one of the main driving forces behind globalisation. At the heart of the logistics revolution resides the integration of transport modes and, in particular, services provided by third-party logistics providers to ease world trade and enabling businesses to connect to the global value chain.

Building on the historical strengths of Mauritius as a port of call on the spice trading route, 1992 saw the creation of the Freeport with enactment of the Freeport Act. To give meaning to this concept, Government converted a warehouse of just 7,500 square metres within the port area, previously used to store flour, into storage facilities for general commodities and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG). The old passenger terminal at the airport was also converted into a Freeport area to facilitate the re-export of cargo by air. At the back of this old warehouse within the port area were 45 hectares of reclaimed land which Government decided to use, in a phased manner, to develop the Freeport with the extensive support of the private sector under a build, operate and transfer scheme.

More than 20 years later, in 2014, this project of land reclamation by the Mauritius Ports Authority is fully developed with warehousing capacity close to 300,000 square metres, trade volumes nearing half a million tonnes, cumulative private sector investment to the tune of Rs 6.5 billion, 260 companies fully operational with 8 Freeport developers and the creation of more than 3,100 direct jobs. This evolution underlines the significance of private-public sector partnership in the economic development of Mauritius.

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 economic activities generated in the sector are impressive. 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, light assembly and manufacturing for exports.

We hope that the interviews of some of the directors of the companies operating in the Freeport, namely Africasia, Velogic, Petredec and Royal Cresta Paints Ltd, and featured in this newsletter will provide a glimpse of the road travelled by the Freeport since its inception back in 1992. We also hope these interviews serve as a harbinger of positive things yet to happen as Mauritius consolidates its position and strengths as a regional financial centre.

By taking advantage of its strategic position mid-way between Asia and Africa, the Mauritius Freeport is poised to become an integral part of the new economic architecture and it is well placed to catch the tail wind of this new phase in global trade by building sophisticated networks of trade and financial links.

Furthermore, in line with our initiative to promote Mauritius as a bio hub for the region, this issue features an exclusive interview of Dr. Régine Rouzier, Managing Director of Cap Research.

We wish you a pleasant read.

Ken Poonoosamy
Managing Director

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