MAURITIAN business representatives descended on Durban on Monday, and will be in Johannesburg later this week, to promote the country’s trade opportunities in textile manufacturing, accessories, jewellery, and agricultural products.

The Enterprise Mauritius team said it was already talking to big chains, such as Mr Price, Ackermans and Reebok about manufacturing in the Indian Ocean country.

The same group was in Cape Town earlier this year to expand its manufacturing contracts with large retailers, such as Woolworths and The Foschini Group which are already sourcing some of their production in Mauritius. The country is already doing business with the likes of Edcon and major brand names, such as Calvin Klein, Puma, River Island and Levi’s.

Europe and the US account for more than 50% of Mauritian textile and clothing products, while SA accounts for about 24%, as the fourth-largest importer of apparel.

Enterprise Mauritius CE Arvind Radhakrishna said the trade missions sought to strengthen existing relationship, while seeking new buyers in different categories, such as boutique outlets.

"The timing of the mission is particularly opportune in light of the depreciation of the South African rand, since Mauritian manufacturers enjoy zero rate of duty when entering the South African market."

Mr Radhakrishna encouraged South African companies, especially big fabric manufacturers, to set up their plants in Mauritius. The textile and apparel industry employs about 55,000 people on the island.