New project in Seychelles aims to facilitate trade with African countries
Seychelles will soon start the implementation of the African Trade Observatory (ATO) project where local businesses can get more information about trade potential within the African continent, a top government official said on Tuesday.
The principal secretary for Trade, Cillia Mangroo, told a press conference that the government will need to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the International Trade Centre (ITC) to be able to benefit from the project. Mangroo added that the cabinet of ministers endorsed the signing of the MOU last week.
“This will assist government and the private sector to get more information on the different trade opportunities and to collect trade data from a different country. It is a pilot project but Seychelles wanted to come as one of the first countries so that we could benefit because it would also assist the private sector,” said Mangroo.
Mangroo added that the Trade Department will be meeting with the private sector to know which country they would like to get more information on. “So, with this tool, it will provide them with more information on what they can buy or sell in different countries on the African continent and it will help us also to know what they would want from the market.”
According to the ministry, the ATO is a system that aims to create a continent-wide trade information portal to facilitate intra-African trade. It also will help to monitor the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and boost intra-Africa trade by connecting interested traders within the continent.
A press release said the system will seek to collect trade-related data from member states and provide trade intelligence to both government and private sectors. With the establishment of such collaboration, it is expected that it will considerably enhance the coverage, quality and availability of real-time trade data for all African countries including Seychelles.
Once a party to the MOU, the private sector in Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean – will have access to a variety of information including merchandise trade flows at the most detailed level including rates of utilisation of intra-Africa tariff preferences, customs duties applied, preferential and bound rates, internal taxes including VAT, excise tax and others, and commodity prices and exchange rate indicators amongst others.
Furthermore, the ATO also provides a gateway for the private sector to gain access to the African market by connecting buyers and sellers, through a structured network which also provides them with the necessary market access information, such as applicable taxes and standards and market prices.