20 years in the making: WTO officially accepts Seychelles as 161st member

After one of the longest accession procedures in history, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on 27 April 2015 officially accepted one of its smallest members, the Seychelles archipelago of 90,000 inhabitants.

The Director General of the World Trade Organisation, Roberto Azevedo (World Trade Organisation/FlickrPhoto license

According to a press release issued by the WTO, Seychelles officially became the 161st member of the global trade organisation on Sunday  April  26 after a 30-day countdown to its membership began on March 27.

The President of Seychelles, James Michel signed the legal instrument for the 115-island Indian Ocean archipelago’s accession to the WTO on March 25, a day after the accession protocol was ratified by the Seychelles National Assembly.

"I am delighted to welcome the Republic of Seychelles as the 161st member of the WTO," said WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo in a press statement.

"This is great news for Seychelles' economy and, therefore, for the people of Seychelles. It is also a boost for the WTO and a vote of confidence in the organisation, as we redouble our efforts to complete the Doha Round of negotiations," he added.

The Seychelles Minister for Finance, Trade and the Blue Economy, Jean Paul Adam, during a press conference held in the Seychelles capital of Victoria said that it had been the government’s economic and political priority to ensure that the question of access to the international market through trade was properly addressed. 

 

“Since 2008 our approach in trade is to take into consideration the specificities of our economy, leaving space for our local sectors such as agriculture, tourism and other local productions to flourish,” the Minister said.

WTO negotiations underway in Geneva have focused on the United States’ insistence that major developing countries reduce the support and subsidies their governments give to farmers, with countries such as China and India reacting strongly against the proposal.

The WTO is currently full-swing into the post-Bali work programme in an effort to finally conclude the long-stalled Doha trade talks.

A 20-year effort

Seychelles initially requested membership to the WTO on May 31, 1995, and made very little progress up until it re-initiated the process in 2008. Since 2008, the government made a significant amount of progress to identify the required legislative changes. By 2010, Seychelles had submitted offers in both Goods and Services, and also established a Working Party on July 11, 1995.

The island nation completed bilateral trade negotiations with nine WTO members that requested talks via Seychelles’ working party, namely the US, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Mauritius, Oman, South Africa, Switzerland and Thailand.

Tourism and fisheries are the main pillars of the island nation's economy, with the main export being canned tuna destined mainly for the European market.

Seychelles also depends heavily on food imports, with up to 90 percent of goods consumed coming by air and sea cargo.

The process of becoming a WTO member is unique to each applicant country, but takes an average of about five years for most nations. 

Article Source: Seychelles News Agency By: Hajira Amla 

Sixth Review Under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) for Seychelles

The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has completed the sixth review under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) for Seychelles. The completion of the review enables a disbursement of approximately US$ 2.0 million, which will bring total disbursements under the arrangement to US$ 30.5 million. The Executive Board also approved an extension of the arrangement by one year to support the country’s economic reform program and an augmentation of access by 60.6 percent of quota.

The Extended Fund Facility became effective on December 23, 2009, in the amount of US$ 31.1 million.

Following the Executive Board’s discussion yesterday, Mr. Min Zhu, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair stated that economic growth in 2012 has held up, with tourism from new markets offsetting weakness in traditional European arrivals. He also stated that an uptick in inflation in the first half of the year emanating from higher energy prices and exchange rate depreciation has been successfully curbed by tight monetary policy; and although the outlook is benign, it remains vulnerable to the uncertain global environment.

 

Warning against fraudulent scams

The Central Bank of Seychelles and Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) wish to raise public awareness on the increasing occurrence of scams in the financial sector. The authorities advise the public to remain vigilant of suspicious persons or correspondences so as not to fall victim to these scams.

One such scam is online fraud (phishing) whereby fraudsters create fake bank websites in an attempt to obtain people’s personal and bank account details. The fraudster poses as a commercial bank and invites the bank’s clients through either e-mail messages or phone calls to visit the fake bank website. The fraudster typically lures unsuspecting members of the public into providing personal and bank login details through the fake website, which is then used to defraud the victims.

The authorities have also received information on another scam targeting mainly local business/importers. In this particular case, importers are contacted through e-mails by fraudsters posing as overseas suppliers. The fraudsters then trick the importers to make payments to their overseas bank account number for which chances of recovering the funds are minimal. This is in view that such accounts are closed as soon as the funds are received. This fraud has been mainly encountered where direct advance payment for goods is involved.

Great care needs to be taken where Seychellois source suppliers of goods through the internet. This is fraught with danger and many people are tricked into paying in advance for goods they will never receive. The person seeking to purchase supplies from abroad believe they have a good commercial deal but they end up losing a lot of money. Only purchase from a trusted source. Try to use a Letter of Guarantee system thus protecting your funds and the payment to the suppliers.

When using e-mail addresses to conduct financial business, always double check that the address is the same one you used previously. In many instances fraudsters alter one letter in an e-mail address thus intercepting intended payments.

It is important that members of the public refrain from divulging any personal banking details to suspicious parties and also to take necessary precautions when dealing with e-mails or even phone calls in relation to payment of money. If you receive such an e-mail you are advised to notify your bank, not to respond or click on any of the links as it is a scam.

If you have been affected by one of these scams, or have been contacted by suspicious persons, we urge you to write and inform the FIU, c/o Central Bank, P.O Box 701, Victoria and provide them with all known details. You can also contact the FIU directly on Telephone Number 428 20 00.

 

 

SCCI welcomes commercial court launch plan

The chairman of the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) Dr V. Ramadoss has welcomed plans for special court to hear business-related cases as it “will free resources, dynamise the economy and redeem lost jobs”.

Many businesses come to a standstill when there is a dispute in court and people lose their jobs, while property owners cannot use or rent out premises involved in a dispute, but if the courts can resolve pending issues faster, the businesses would be able to run again and contribute more to the economy, he told journalists.

Dr Ramadoss was commenting on recent statements by Finance, Trade and Investment Minister Pierre Laporte and chief justice (CJ) Fredrick Egonda-Ntende that the courts are working to make Seychelles a better place to do business.

The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business chart places Seychelles in position 183 where resolving insolvency is concerned and shows there has been no improvement from last year when the country held the same rank.

When he chaired the first session of a new committee he created to find ways to ease doing business in Seychelles, Mr Laporte noted the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank – which lists 183 economies – has placed Seychelles in position 103 up from rank 109 last year, which he said “is not bad but we can improve on”.

He said steps to start an economic court are advanced and it is about to start soon with the chief justice hearing cases helped by another judge.

CJ Egonda-Ntende said the reforms he started two years ago are Many businesses come to a standstill when there is a dispute in court and people lose their jobs, while property owners cannot use or rent out premises involved in a dispute, but if the courts can resolve pending issues faster, the businesses would be able to run again and contribute more to the economy, he told journalists.

Dr Ramadoss was commenting on recent statements by Finance, Trade and Investment Minister Pierre Laporte and chief justice (CJ) Fredrick Egonda-Ntende that the courts are working to make Seychelles a better place to do business.

The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business chart places Seychelles in position 183 where resolving insolvency is concerned and shows there has been no improvement from last year when the country held the same rank.

When he chaired the first session of a new committee he created to find ways to ease doing business in Seychelles, Mr Laporte noted the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank – which lists 183 economies – has placed Seychelles in position 103 up from rank 109 last year, which he said “is not bad but we can improve on”.

He said steps to start an economic court are advanced and it is about to start soon with the chief justice hearing cases helped by another judge.

CJ Egonda-Ntende said the reforms he started two years ago are still gaining momentum.

Before taking up his appointment here, Mr Egonda-Ntende was the head of Uganda’s Commercial Court which he nurtured and ran for a long time, drawing commendation from local media and businesses who said the court had “unlocked tied-up business opportunities”.

Talking to the media earlier, he said:

“If someone supplies goods and there is a dispute before he is paid, forcing him to wait for so long before his case is settled, then his money is held up and he cannot reinvest it.”

President James Michel has been calling for faster court reform saying it is “an important element in the new economic course Seychelles has adopted”.

“Our economy is moving rapidly. Our country is moving rapidly. We need a judiciary that moves rapidly,” said Mr Michel in his last National Day address.

Mr Egonda-Ntende referred to a number of courses he has negotiated for from the US embassy in Mauritius, saying they will boost the courts’ efficiency:

“When I came here I talked about the need for capacity building and to centre the same on Seychellois professionals in order to create a reliable foundation to build the new judiciary.

“These courses – which I negotiated with the US ambassador almost two years ago – form one plank of it.

“The idea is to boost efficiency and reduce the backlog and speed up the hearing of cases. We are tackling the problem in multifaceted manner. Results take time to show though,” he told Nation.

Under the programme, seven Seychellois judges and magistrates will train at the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada this year through a US $100,000 grant from the US embassy’s Economic Support Fund.

They are magistrates Brassel Adeline, Samia Govinden, Laura Pillay, Kishnan Labonté and judges Gustave Dodin, Durai Karunakaran, and Bernadin Renaud.

They will cover Conducting of Trials, Enhancing Judicial Bench Skills, General Jurisdiction and Civil Mediation. Each theme will take between one and two weeks. They started in March and will end in July.

 

Dr Ramadoss welcomed move

Seychelles in $21 million World Bank Partnership

The World Bank’s board of executive directors has discussed a new US $21 million Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) with Seychelles, the country’s first comprehensive development strategy with the international financial institution in nearly two decades.

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