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Mr. James Y. Yao, Mr. Gamal Z El-Masry, Padamja Khandelwal, and Mr. Emilio Sacerdoti

Abstract

Mauritius is a small island economy in a remote section of the Indian Ocean. The island was visited by Malays, Arabs, and Portuguese in the sixteenth century. The first colonial settlement in Mauritius, however, was made by the Dutch, who proclaimed it a Dutch colony in 1638 but then left in 1710. The French ruled the island until 1810, when they lost it to the British during the Anglo-French war. After the abolition of slavery in 1833, indentured laborers were brought from India to work in the sugarcane fields. As a result, Hindu Indians now form the majority of the population, followed by Creoles (of mixed, predominantly African, origin), Muslim Indians, Chinese, and Europeans. Mauritius has been independent since 1968 and became a republic in 1992.

Mr. James Y. Yao, Mr. Gamal Z El-Masry, Padamja Khandelwal, and Mr. Emilio Sacerdoti

Abstract

Despite strong economic growth, averaging just below 6 percent per year over the last two decades, a “U”-curve phenomenon of Mauritian unemployment can be observed (Figure 5.1). The unemployment rate plunged from about 21 percent to less than 4 percent from the early 1980s to the early 1990s. Notwithstanding sustained economic growth averaging 5½ percent per year between 1991 and 2002, the declining trend in unemployment was reversed, and the rate steadily increased, reaching approximately 10 percent by end-2002. According to the 2000 census, a majority of the unemployed were young, had never held a job, had failed primary or secondary school education, had no technical or vocational training, and were single and family supported. Despite the rising unemployment rate, two paradoxical facts about the 1990s can be noted: (1) the EPZ was crippled by skilled labor shortages and was compelled to import foreign workers, mainly from China; and (2) the number of unfilled skilled-job vacancies, especially in the financial services sector, increased over the decade.21 There is little consensus in Mauritius as to the exact nature and causes of the unemployment problem.22

Mr. Michael Keen

Abstract

This paper, based on the considerable practical experience of the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department, sets out a successful strategy for modernizing customs administration. The essence is to establish transparent and simple rules and procedures, and to foster voluntary compliance by building a system of self-assessment supported by well-designed audit policies. Having set out this strategy--and its benefits--the paper discusses in depth what is required in terms of trade policy, valuation procedures, dealing with duty reliefs and exemptions, controlling transit movements, organizational reform, use of new technologies, private sector involvement, and designing incentive systems for an effective customs administration.

Mr. Michael Keen

Abstract

One of the great ironies of intellectual history is that Adam Smith, the apostle of free trade, ended his days as a Comptroller of Customs. By the same token, it may seem strange that the International Monetary Fund (IMF), committed to the principles of free trade, should devote a good deal of its technical assistance activities to strengthening the performance of customs administrations. In each case, however, the explanation is easily found. For Smith, the position of Comptroller at Kircaldy, a post his father had also held, was an attractive sinecure (as customs posts continue to be in all too many countries). For the IMF, the support of improvement in customs administration reflects the recognition that although customs administration would wither away in an ideal world, in practice trade taxes are likely to be a significant source of revenue for many of its members, especially developing countries, for the foreseeable future; and that if trade taxes are to be levied, it is best that this be in a way that does least collateral damage to international trade flows.

Mr. James Y. Yao, Mr. Gamal Z El-Masry, Padamja Khandelwal, and Mr. Emilio Sacerdoti

Abstract

Table 3.1 sketches a brief synopsis of the history of industrial transformation in Mauritius, indicating which were the principal growth industries in each period. In the 1970s, the sugar sector, which includes both cane cultivation and sugar milling, accounted for over 26 percent of GDP and formed the largest sector of the economy. The export-processing zone (EPZ), which is dominated by the clothing and textiles industry, took off in the 1980s. The manufacturing share of GDP climbed rapidly from 4.5 percent in 1982 to 11.6 percent in 1986, equivalent to the percentage contribution to GDP made by sugar cultivation. The sugar sector’s contribution to GDP declined, and by the beginning of the 1990s value added in the EPZ was higher than in the agricultural sector. Rapid growth in tourism and financial services during the 1990s further transformed the structure of the economy, and turned Mauritius into a four-pillar economy.

Mr. Sanjeev Gupta and Yongzheng Yang

Abstract

The generally disappointing record of African RTAs warrants a reexamination of the underlying assumptions. Is the record disappointing because no preconditions were established to make the RTAs beneficial, dooming them to failure before they even began? Or is this record the result of poor design and/or implementation? What can we learn from the successes of regional trade integration in other parts of the world as well as from Africa’s failures?

Mrs. Harinder K Malothra, Mr. Milan M Cuc, Mr. Ulrich Bartsch, and Mr. Menachem Katz

Abstract

How can a country turn oil revenues into a blessing rather than a curse? With growing international interest in new offshore oil deposits in sub-Saharan Africa, there is also greater scrutiny of the reasons why many oil-producing countries in the region have experienced disappointing economic performance over the past 20 to 30 years. This paper discusses the latest thinking on best-practice institutions and policies, compares this thinking with current practice in African oil-exporting countries, and presents a plan for the future, taking into account African policymakers’concerns.

Mrs. Harinder K Malothra, Mr. Milan M Cuc, Mr. Ulrich Bartsch, and Mr. Menachem Katz

Abstract

The fact that oil-producing countries in Africa have not achieved better social indicators than other African countries gives rise to the question of whether this was despite or because of the inflow of billions of U.S. dollars in foreign investment in oil installations, and government oil revenue. The persistent underachievement of development goals has come to be seen as the “resource curse.” This paper has shown, however, that macroeconomic policies and governance can be designed in a way that turn oil revenue into a “blessing.”