Known for its sugarcane fields, Mauritius is working hard to diversify its economic base. Textile and apparels now account for around 55 per cent of exports compared to 12 per cent for sugar. The country has come a long way from being a producer of basic products to a now vertically integrated supplier of design-led garments. Its major products include T-shirts, lingerie, sportswear, shirts, trousers, denim, suits and pullovers, produced by around 250 manufacturers for export.
Production has shifted from mass to more value-added products. Textile and apparel manufacturers have invested heavily in modern technology to climb the value chain and avoid being crushed by competition from China, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.
Mauritius has now become a regional hub for blue-chip corporates and has plans to become a duty-free island. The export sector caters to major markets of the world namely Europe, US and South Africa.
Sustainability is becoming an important aspect of Mauritian textile and apparel manufacturers' operations since that is critical to attract the right buyers. Investments have included new wash and dryer machines, designed to cut the use of energy and water. Key yarns used include organic and fair trade cotton, bamboo and African cotton.