Seychelles’ WTO accession broadens its access to global markets

12 December 2014
ITC News

The island nation of Seychelles has become the 161st member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), gaining with it the opportunity to better integrate into the multilateral trading system.

The Minister of Finance, Trade and Investment, H.E. Mr. Pierre F. Laporte, signed the country’s WTO accession protocol on 10 December 2014, following its formal approval by all WTO Members in Geneva.

‘It brings for us several important advantages in terms of modernizing our frameworks, our laws, our systems,’ Mr. Laporte told ITC on the day of the signing. ‘It allows us to have a platform if we have issues to raise, and it also helps to liberalize the economy.’

Technically speaking, Seychelles’ WTO membership will only be activated 30 days after its national parliament ratifies the accession protocol. Mr. Laporte said he expects the ratification to be completed in the first quarter of 2015.
During the accession process, Seychelles completed bilateral trade negotiations with the nine WTO Members that requested enhanced discussions on market access: Canada, the European Union, Japan, Mauritius, Oman, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand and the United States of America.

Seychelles applied for WTO membership on 31 May 1995 and a WTO working party on its accession was set up shortly afterwards. The signing of the accession protocol is an opportunity for Seychelles to benefit from increased trade in global markets and to bring its trade policies and regulatory framework up to international standards.

Receiving technical support, promoting dialogue Following the accession process, the International Trade Centre (ITC) will work with policymakers and the business community in Seychelles to provide targeted technical assistance to the private sector, enabling it to take full advantage of WTO membership.
ITC helps small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to trade and invest, thus contributing to economic growth and the generation of jobs,’ said ITC Executive Director Arancha González. ‘By becoming a member of the WTO family, Seychelles is now in a stronger position to tap into trade opportunities in the region and around the world. ITC is a ready partner to help Seychelles and its SMEs to realize this potential.’

‘There are specific areas where ITC is focusing, for example on small and medium-sized enterprises, which is for Seychelles a very important area,’ said Mr. Laporte. ‘And ITC with its expertise in that area can bring a lot of technical assistance and support to us.’

Joint activities with the Government of Seychelles will include technical support for trade facilitation measures, enhanced public-private sector dialogue on opportunities associated with trade liberalization, strengthening the fisheries and tourism value chains, the creation of an incubator for small and medium-sized enterprises, improved trade finance services, the development of farming and small-scale manufacturing, enhanced services offered by trade support institutions, as well as regional trade integration.

Seychelles is a small island developing state consisting of 115 islands and a population of about 89,000.