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Making the connections - Mauritius: Pivot between Asia and Africa

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    On 14 November 2017, we hosted a breakfast briefing to explore the regulatory and business environment in Mauritius and its potential as a stable and secure pivot between Asia and Africa.

    We were joined by Mr Khemraj Jingree (Mauritian Deputy High Commissioner in London) and Mr Heerun Ghurburrun (Head of the Mauritius Board of Investment, Paris), who gave an overview of the Government's ongoing initiatives to underpin the country's prominence.

    Mauritius as the route for capital deployment in investments is becoming increasingly important. Historically, it has been the favoured capital route for India but, increasingly, it is seen as a preferred holding location for Africa. Mr Ghurburrun referred to the island’s active participation in initiatives such as China’s One Belt, One Road and India’s and Japan’s Asia-Africa Growth Corridor as a way to capitalise on the growing influence of those key Asian countries on the African continent. He observed that such, mainly geo-political, initiatives are still in their infancy and that large-scale uptake by the private sector will need to follow. It was noted that Mauritius had entered into agreements with Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Madagascar to set up Special Economic Zones in those countries, projects designed to foster mutual long term development.

    Emphasising the island’s unique position as a structuring jurisdiction, Eversheds Sutherland Partner Jean-François Boisvenu (a specialist in banking and financing regulation resident in Mauritius since 2009) gave an overview of the hybrid French/English law-based system and the corporate and other vehicles available to investors. Partner Iwan Walters discussed particular structuring considerations in the context of energy projects, highlighting the importance of obtaining concurrent tax and investment protection advice to take advantage of the island’s vast treaty network. Principal Associate Greg Falkof elaborated on mechanisms contained in Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) entered into by Mauritius, which can protect both inbound and outbound investment.

    During our Q&A session, participants were interested in efforts made to maintain a reputation for transparency following publication of the Paradise Papers, which put the spotlight on a number of tax-friendly jurisdictions. Measures such as Mauritius signing up to the OECD’s multilateral anti-BEPS (base erosion and profit shifting) Convention in July 2017 were cited as positive steps. The country has also entered into a number of Tax Information Exchange Agreements and a special agreement with South Africa on double taxation and tax evasion (link here). Interest was also expressed about the state of the telecoms sector and development of the island’s ocean economy.

    As the only international law firm with a presence in Mauritius, Eversheds Sutherland is uniquely placed to help our clients navigate the legal and strategic issues that can arise when they are looking to invest in and through the island. Our full service office in Port-Louis is expanding and our local team are committed to developing their cross border transactional and advisory work with Africa and Asia. Our ability to draw on the expertise and experience of the Eversheds Africa Law Institute (EALI), an innovative network aimed at promoting the development of law and client service excellence on the African continent, further enhances our capabilities in the region.

    This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full terms and conditions on our website.

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