The freeport initiative is in keeping with the diversification strategy deemed necessary in the post- GATT era. In 1992, Mauritius launched the Freeport Authority as a building block towards becoming a regional distribution centre. The advantages the Mauritian economy could derive from the freeport activity include:
(i) generate more trade between Mauritius and neighbouring countries and therefore more export revenues;
(ii) attract foreign operators and businessmen and therefore increase the inflow of foreign currency;
(iii) generate employment in the export and services sector (accountancy and law firms in particular);
(iv) foster the upgrading of port facilities.
Freeport activity has developed very fast since its onset: there are at present close to three hundred operators and eight new ones on average every month. Freeport imports are mainly from China, Thailand, India and South-Africa, while exports are primarily towards Madagascar, South-Africa and Reunion Island. Exports are mainly in textiles, electrical appliances, and chemical products.