Seychelles, UAE to sign customs agreement to assist with anti-fraud measures
Police officer and dog during a cargo search operation exercise at the Seychelles International airport arrival terminal. (Seychelles police)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The customs departments of Seychelles and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will be able to share information on fraud cases after the signing of an agreement later this year, said a top government official.
The two countries are expected to sign the Cooperation and Mutual Assistance Agreement to create a customs cooperation administrative framework, given the significant volume of cargo imported to Seychelles through the UAE.
The agreement will formalise relations between the customs departments of the two countries and will make it easier for the two governments to share information in cases of fraud, Cillia Mangroo, the principal secretary of trade and investment told the press last week.
“Such an agreement sends out a strong message and it will provide for faster responses and exchange of information from our counterparts in the UAE,” said Mangroo.
She added that the agreement “will help in instances when cases of fraud are identified by the two parties as a large part of our trade is with and is transited through the UAE, more particularly Dubai where a lot of good is also bought.”
Earlier this month, the Seychelles’ Cabinet of Ministers approved the signing of the agreement, which is expected to take place later this year following the end of negotiations between the two countries.
Mangroo said the customs cooperation agreement will also provide for technical assistance and capacity building between the two countries.
Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, is expected to sign more cooperation agreements with other countries it is trading with and this will include a new Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the United Kingdom.
Mangroo said that negotiations to have this new agreement started in September 2017 following the UK’s decision in June 2016 to move out of the European Union through a referendum which began negotiations for a Brexit deal. This process led the UK to invoke Article 50 of the European Treaty on March 29, 2017.
“Following this, Seychelles together with other Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) countries initiated negotiations to move the current agreement they have with the EU into one directly with the UK,” she said.
The principal secretary added that in view of the current situation in relation to the Brexit negotiations, it is important to be cautious and to sign and ratify this new agreement with the UK before March 29 this year, the date on which the UK has to leave the EU.
In the case that there is a no Brexit deal, the UK will not have a transition period with the EU and this will be a concern for Seychelles as it will not have preferential access to the UK market. The UK is where almost 30 percent of the tuna exports of the Indian Ocean Tuna (IOT) company based in Seychelles to the EU are geared.
“This will be a huge loss of revenue for Seychelles thus the importance of having the agreement before March 29,” said Mangroo.
The new agreement is currently with the Attorney General’s office but it is expected to be signed on January 22 and submitted to the National Assembly for ratification.