How Mauritius changed its sugar industry following Schumpeterian creative destruction..

A nice speech from Rundheersing Bheenick, Governor of the Bank of Mauritius. He speaks on the occasion of Omnicane raising Medium term notes with StanC as its financial partner. It is a big event as Mauritius is looking at developing its orporate bond market. Omnicane is a sugar company in Mauritius.

In the speech, he speaks how Mauritian sugar industry responded to challenges imposed as Mauritius joined WTO:

Government embarked last year on an Economic Transformation Programme. It can draw some inspiration from the example of the sugar industry which has undergone a total  transformation on the back of some Schumpeterian “creative destruction”. As is well-known,  the local sugar sector found itself with its back to the wall when faced with a drastic 36 per  cent cut in sugar export prices following the reform of the EU Sugar Protocol to make it  WTO-compatible. There were dire predictions that the industry was going the way of the dodo. It had to shed excess fat and had literally reinvent itself to survive.

With public/private collaboration of a kind rarely seen before, an industry that was widely  seen as being on its last legs successfully transformed itself into a modern cane cluster. This  cane cluster has emerged from an industry that until recently, owed its survival to the  continued generosity of the EU taxpayer and was content to export raw sugar in bulk for  refining in Europe. It now produces several types of sugar such as raw sugar, special sugars,  industrial sugar and white sugar; it also supplies firm power to the national grid from  bagasse/coal co-generation using state-of-the-art technology; and it will soon produce ethanol using molasses. Today, Mauritius is a successful and reliable exporter of refined  sugar to Europe.

With its flexi-factory, Omnicane is the very emblem of this transformation. There are useful lessons in this transformation for others operating in other sectors of the economy: Adapt or Perish. I had the pleasure of visiting Omnicane last year. I was quite impressed by what I saw there, particularly by the spirit of innovation and efficiency that permeates the whole organization. I am trying not to sound like a publicist for Omnicane – but it is quite an operation, believe me.

Fascinating reading all this.  Always interesting to note how industries in such small economies respond to competitive pressures..

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