WTO commends Seychelles for progress in implementing accession commitments
Seychelles has been praised for having made steady progress in implementing its World Trade Organisation (WTO) accession commitments and its active and constructive role in the multilateral trading system at its first review, said a top government official on Tuesday.
The statement was made by the Principal Secretary for Trade, Francis Lebon, during an interview with the press.
The first review of the trade policies and practices of Seychelles at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) took place in Geneva on December 5 and 7 and was attended by a delegation led by Naadir Hassan, the Minister for Finance, National Planning and Trade.
“As part of the review, WTO members asked questions about Seychelles’ performance with regards to its trade commitment and we had a number of questions where I can say the members were satisfied with the answers that we were able to give them,” said Lebon.
While Seychelles was praised for making steady progress, WTO members also congratulated the island nation for its open trade regime, with one of the lowest Most Favoured Nation (MFN) averages applied tariffs among WTO Members, which was 2.7 percent in 2022.
Lebon said that the members recognised Seychelles resilience and how the country managed to bounce back from the effects of the pandemic.
“However, all the countries that spoke also acknowledged the vulnerabilities of Seychelles, especially to climate change and the external shocks from other countries,” he added.
Seychelles was encouraged to remove its remaining foreign investment restrictions in sensitive sectors such as tourism, transportation, and recreational services and to further promote competition in the economy to increase productivity and reduce costs.
Some members also invited Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, to make its technical assistance needs to be known, including those related to trade facilitation.
“This is something that we will now look at where we can then approach those nations with our plans and areas in which we feel they will be able to be of assistance to us,” said Lebon.
Trade policy reviews are an exercise mandated in WTO agreements in which member countries’ trade and related policies are examined and evaluated at regular intervals. Significant developments that may have an impact on the global trading system are also monitored.
All WTO members are subject to review, with the frequency of review varying according to their share of world trade.
Seychelles became the 161st WTO member on April 26 in 2015 and its first trade policy review was due 7 years after its accession.
According to a press statement from the ministry, in his address at the review in Geneva, Hassan highlighted the significant progress Seychelles has made since its accession.
“As a Small Island Developing Country, Seychelles faces many challenges, typically faced by other SIDS, which was evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. The need for special and differential treatment (SDT) in the WTO should be maintained and, where possible, enhanced, given the unique circumstances many WTO members face,” he said.
Hassan also recognised the need for Seychelles to strengthen cooperation and deepen its trade and economic ties with its trading partners and other WTO members.
“I want to re-emphasise Seychelles’ unflinching commitment to WTO’s objectives and a non-discriminatory, open, fair, inclusive, equitable, and transparent multilateral trading system, and Seychelles will continue to engage constructively in the work of the WTO,” he added.