Global action is required to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and its adverse economic impacts, especially on the more vulnerable countries, President Danny Faure told Commonwealth leaders in a virtual meeting this week.
Faure chaired the first Commonwealth COVID-19 virtual leaders meeting convened by the Commonwealth Secretariat to discuss common challenges, exchange ideas and solutions, and develop collaborative strategies in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
“All countries are deciding how best to open up to international travel and tourism.  It is critical that the world agrees on a harmonised set of standards that all must follow, similar to what happened after 9/11,” Faure said during the Wednesday meeting.
He added that the Commonwealth should call upon international travel organisations like the International Civil Aviation Organisation, International Air Transport Association and United Nations World Tourism Organisation to agree with the World Health Organisation on universal health standards to be used by all international airports and airlines.
Faure gave an overview of the current difficulties that Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, is facing.
“The global crisis has induced a significant decline in our tourism-based economy with a substantial increase in unemployment, a drastic drop in the value of our currency and an estimated contraction of our economy by negative 10.8 percent. This is the case in 2020, but it is clear that it will take several years for our economy to recover and many more years before we reach the level of pre-COVID-19,” he said.
Faure added that Seychelles cannot access international development aid, including loans at preferential rates to fund its post-COVID-19 recovery and adaptation efforts. 
“We are in dire need of fiscal space to support our recovery efforts,” he said, while stressing that the pandemic “highlights the arguments which small islands developing states have for several decades been making on how inappropriate is the GDP per capita criteria to determine eligibility to official development assistance.”
He concluded in thanking the Commonwealth Secretary General not just for calling this virtual meeting of leaders, but also for bringing the organisation to a higher level.
On her side, the Commonwealth Secretary General, Patricia Scotland, highlighted the shared vulnerability that shows the need for solidarity and collaboration.
“Our solidarity is vital to defeat this pandemic, regenerate our communities and take on the economic and environmental challenges that this planet faces, and defeat the corrosive stain of racism which would seek to tear us apart,” she said.
The virtual meeting saw the participation of 45 member states represented by heads of state or government representatives.  
Source: Seychelles News Agency