Clothing manufacturers have shed jobs and invested in technology in order to climb the value chain and avoid being crushed by low-cost competition from Asia.
Like the sugar industry, which has suffered from changes in regulation and increased international competition, Mauritian textile companies have had to restructure their operations in the past decade to address rising threats and benefit from new opportunities.
Operators have consolidated their facilities and are more agile. Those that have integrated vertically, cut their costs and set up operations in other countries have benefited most. Mauritius's Export Processing Zone hosted 272 firms in 2003 but had just 174 last year.
Over the same period, employment in the zone fell from more than 67,000 people to less than 42,000. Now about ten companies account for 90% of the country's textile production.
The end of the Multifibre Agreement in 2005 exposed Mauritian textile firms to low-cost production from China. Since then, operators have shifted their production further up the value-added chain and slashed costs.
In January, the industry minister predicted 10% growth in textile exports for 2012. The Mauritius Export Association (MEXA) reported that the textile sector grew by 11.8% in 2011.
Some Mauritian companies are amongst the world leaders. CMT Spinning Mills, established in 2004 and which employs fewer than 300 people, produces an average of 4m T-shirts per month from its high-tech mills.
Because Mauritius does not produce its own cotton, its textile manufacturers must provide well-managed logistics operations.
This year, MEXA and the Agence Française de Développement have been working to reduce energy consumption for the dyeing and other phases of the production process.
CIEL Textiles, which supplies goods for major European clothing retailers, improved its bottom line earlier this year through rounds of cost cutting.
The company's pre-tax profits nearly tripled to Rs610.7m ($19m) in the year ending 30 June. It runs facilities in Africa and Asia to produce garments like men's shirts and knitted clothing. About two- thirds of CIEL's exports go to countries in the European Union.
Mauritius does not have enough workers to meet the textile industry's demands, as workers complain about the long hours and low wages. Companies like Sissi Creation have decided to employ foreign workers.
This raises production costs because the companies have to provide housing and airfare for their employees. Other competitors prefer to set up factories abroad in order to have access to low-wage labour.
Some Mauritian companies are moving upmarket, concentrating on high-value-added items with short lead times, whilst also upgrading production and trying to enhance efficiency.
Companies exported 1,901tn of textile yarn and fabric in 2010, compared to 1,100tn in 2003. The value of the country's main clothing exports rose from Rs18bn in 2005 to 22bn in 2011, but growth in export volumes has been moderate.
If the global crisis hit every country, it did not hit every one in the same way and to the same degree. So, by diversifying markets, some industrialists have managed to deal with the short-term challenges of the crisis.
BKRR Co. Limited executives are looking to South Africa and Africa's growing middle classes to expand the market. Help could also come from abroad in the form of assistance from Indian textiles companies and the Indian government.
The two governments signed a cooperation pact in early 2012 and held a first joint cooperation meeting in July to discuss technology transfers and other ways to improve Mauritius's performance.
The late-September decision by the United States government to prolong the African Growth and Opportunities Act until 2015 will also ensure that Mauritian clothing exports continue to enter that market without paying duties.
Mauritius is now in talks with Turkey and Tunisia on trade agreements that could provide improved access for the country's exports●