After two years of negative growth, the total EOE exports went up by 1.14% in 2018 as compared to 2017. On the other hand, imports fell by 3.88% resulting in an increase of 9.67% in net exports.
In terms of employment, the sector registered a negative growth of 4.42% from 52,172 in 2017 to 49,866 in 2018. It is worth highlighting that out of the 49,866 employees there are 27,257 Mauritians and 22,609 expatriates.
The share of EOE out of the Manufacturing sector fell by 1.79% in 2018.
In terms of main products of exports, there has been a marginal increase of 0.54% in our Textile & Apparel exports. Altogether exports of Jewellery, Watches & pearls Precious Stones went up by 19% during that period.
On another note, exports of fish & fish products declined by 2.4% as a result of price effect.
Notwithstanding these traditional sectors, medical device is one sector with high export potential. Exports of medical instruments has registered a significant increase of 17.5% from Rs 785 million in year 2017 to Rs 922 million in year 2018.
It is a fact that EU is still our largest export market. However, as part of the market diversification strategy, the share of EU out of total exports has reduced from 60% in 2013 to only 56% in 2018. As illustrated in the table above, our exports to the European countries at large fell by 2.68% as compared to 2017.
On the other hand, exports to America, Africa and Asia registered positive growth during the year 2018. 14% of the total exports is directed towards America while Africa (including South Africa and Madagascar) represents 20% our total exports.
Surprisingly, we noted an upward export trend in the Asian region. Today, Mauritius is exporting to Asian countries like Japan, China, Vietnam, India and Cambodia, among others, which make 10% of our total exports. Among other products, our exports consists mainly of exports of polished diamonds to Vietnam and chilled fish to Japan.
UK and France our two main export markets in the euro zone has shown negative export growth in 2018. As a result of the uncertainties around BREXIT and the crisis in the UK, exports to this important export market fell by 7.4% during that period.
With a negative export growth of 14.68% in 2018, France is today ranked as the 4th largest export market as compared to being the 2nd largest one in 2017.
On a positive note, our exports to the USA and South Africa picked up with an increase of 0.83% and 15.06% respectively in 2018 as compared to 2017.