By Jackson Henry

“If Palau wants to be the financial center of the Pacific, learn from Mauritius”, advised a friend who frequents Mauritius for his holidays. Despite its size and isolation, Mauritius has become the new financial powerhouse in the Indian Ocean boasting world class financial services including offshore banking, captive insurance, aircraft leasing, ship registry, offshore pension funds, and money management. 

Located west of Madagascar, Mauritius became an independent democratic island nation in 1968 and is now respected for its stable government, strong rule of law, ethnic tolerance, progressive thinking and fiercely competitive free market economy that has delivered a good life to its 1.2 million citizens. Mauritius started with sugar cane cultivation and textile manufacturing as its economic mainstay. Today, the country has diversified its economic engines to include tourism, off shore banking and global financial services. Its investment friendly environment has attracted $11 billion in foreign investments, a GDP at $12 billion annually and per capita income at $12,100.00 per year. Yes, Mauritius has casinos which helps extract additional cash from the free spending high-end European tourists who descend down to Mauritius for holidays during cold winters.

Transparency International ranked Mauritius at 41 among 179 countries with the least corruption. In fact, Mauritius is regarded as one of Africa’s least corrupted countries.

To speed up development and elevate the people’s living standards, Mauritius launched EANM or Economic Agenda for the New Millennium. This “great leap forward” program aims to make the nation achieve three main objectives. First is greater competitiveness among the nations of the world. Second is to bring about deeper social development. Third is to protect its fragile environment.

I have always told my associates that Palau does not have to reinvent the wheel in order to succeed. We just have to learn from other successful countries, like Mauritius or Singapore, and improve on their formula to fit Palau’s needs. Because Palau lacks resources and our environment is fragile, we must explore offshore financial services and improve tourism to pull our economy up from our boot straps. If in doubt, visit Port Louis in Mauritius and see how creativity can bolster the economy of a resource stricken island. With courage and vision, Palau too can succeed and prosper, just like Mauritius.

One Comment to “Mauritius”

  1. Mr. Henry,

    I enjoyed your post greatly. You mentioned exploring offshore financial services. Do you mean follow the ever-so-popular Cayman Islands style of banking? Or becoming a tax haven for wealthy individuals around the world? Asset protection is one of the biggest, if not the most pertinent issue for financial services providers today. If such route is feasible, how do you suggest we (Palau) begin?

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