The Role of Exports in African Economic Development: A Comparative Study of Mauritius and Tunisia
Mauritius and Tunisia stand out as two remarkable exceptions to the African economic growth experience. Since their respective independences in 1968 and 1956, both have achieved average real GDP per capita growth well in excess of three percent per year. Export policies featured highly in the developmental strategies of both countries as they transitioned through a dependency on agriculture into manufacturing and then services. What makes this comparison so interesting is that despite such similar success, Tunisia and Mauritius are fundamentally very different. This study comprises the first ever in-depth comparison of these two countries, presenting a qualitative analysis and then augmenting it with a comprehensive set of econometric tests. The focus is on the relationship between exports and economic growth, but the discussion explores the wider context in both countries. Using the Granger-causality approach, we find strong evidence for export-led growth in Mauritius, but no significant evidence of any causal relationship in Tunisia. On the basis of a broader analysis we argue that exports were still important in both countries, but appear to have been more central to the growth process in Mauritius. This broader analysis also highlights that other factors – such as a strong institutional environment – were important in facilitating or directly contributing to such consistent growth.