Mauritius. During the year, Prime Minister Paul Bérenger began acting to get Britain to return the Chagos Islands, which Mauritius has been claiming for decades. In July, he traveled to London to discuss the dispute with lawyers and Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon. Mauritius’s government threatened to appeal to the International Court of Justice in The Hague if Britain did not release Chagos. However, the country would then be forced to leave the Commonwealth, whose rules do not allow member states to sue each other.
According to CountryAAH, the total population in Mauritius is 1,271,779 people in 2020. The Chagos Islands, located northeast of the Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, broke away from Mauritius 1965, when the area belonged to the United Kingdom. Since 1966, the British have leased the largest island, Diego Garcia, to the United States, which has a military base there. The islands’ approximately 1,600 residents were forcibly transferred to Mauritius. The agreement on the air base, which included, among other things. was an important starting point for the Iraq war, expiring in 2016. McKinnon took Mauritius’s party on the issue and criticized the British government for not meeting Bérenger during his London visit. The British government indicated that it was prepared to give the Chagos residents extra damages. A spokesman for the islanders welcomed this, but said they still intend to continue asserting their right to return. There was no decisive factor in the conflict during the year.
The number of employees in Mauritius’s textile industries decreased by about 10,000 to 80,000 from 2003 to 2004. The reason is that international clothing companies have started moving production to countries with lower wages. At the beginning of the year, hundreds of outlet stores that sold Ralph Lauren clothing were also closed. It happened after a court decision, after the American fashion designer sued the stores for selling the company’s clothing brands without permission.
Mauritius signed an agreement with Seychelles on enhanced economic cooperation in December, including in the tourism sector.