September 12, 2014 / 5:15 PM / 6 years ago

Foreign investment in Mauritius jumps, real estate gets most

A tour guide stands with a group of tourists at a viewpoint overlooking Port Louis June 6, 2008. REUTERS/Ed Harris

PORT LOUIS (Reuters) - Foreign direct investment in Mauritius jumped 67.3 percent to 7.926 billion rupees ($253 million) in the first six months of 2014 from a year earlier, helped by a flow of money into real estate, the central bank said on Friday.

The island nation has been trying to shift an economy traditionally focused on sugar, textiles and tourism towards luxury real estate, offshore banking and medical tourism.

The largest part of the money went into real estate development, which attracted 3.18 billion rupees in the first six months, up from 2.94 billion rupees a year earlier, said the Bank of Mauritius.

France was the biggest source with 543 million rupees followed by the United Arab Emirates which put in 188 million rupees, according to the data.

Ken Poonoosammy, Managing Director of the country’s Board of Investment, said the foreign cash was helping push Mauritius from a dependence on agriculture towards more lucrative sectors.

“In quantitative terms, FDI inflows into Mauritius are not high. Yet they play a significant role in boosting national growth,” Poonoosammy said in the BOI newsletter.

The Bank of Mauritius also said the current account deficit rose to 9.64 billion rupees in the second quarter this year although sizeable foreign direct investment inflows allowed for a further build-up of gross international reserves.

It said current account deficit was almost twice the level reached in the first quarter of 2014 and 30 percent higher than the second quarter of 2013.

(1 US dollar = 31.3300 Mauritius rupee)

Reporting by by Jean Paul Arouff; Editing by Edith Honan and Andrew Heavens

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