EU signs 760,000-Euro trade liberalisation funding agreement with Seychelles following political dialogue session
An EU funding agreement totalling 760,000 Euros was signed on Wednesday by the Seychelles' Principal Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, and the EU's Ambassador Aldo Dell’Ariccia. British High Commissioner Lindsay Skoll and French Ambassador Lionel Majesté Larrouy were also present. (Jean Toussaint, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Representatives of the European Union were this week in Seychelles to discuss economic, social and political issues, particularly those surrounding good governance, democracy, the rule of law and human rights, with a focus on the upcoming elections, which are widely expected to take place in the first half of 2016.
These discussions took place during the annual EU Political Dialogue session, held on Wednesday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Transport’s headquarters in the Seychelles capital of Victoria.
According to a joint press release issued on behalf of the EU and the government of Seychelles, both parties said they “welcomed the significant progress” of their partnership and affirmed their mutual commitment to the principles of good governance, democracy and respect for human rights.
The Seychelles government expressed its “firm commitment to make every effort to ensure that the upcoming elections are credible, free and transparent, based on an appropriate and consensual legal framework, so as to increase the trust and participation of citizens,” read the statement.
The EU also approved an envelope of 760,000 Euros, or around 11 million Seychelles rupees, to help both the public and private sectors in the small island developing state meet the EU’s requirements when it comes to the trade liberalisation and free market access.
The 115-island Indian Ocean archipelago of 90,000 inhabitants’ economy relies almost exclusively on tourism and the export of canned tuna, and the EU is both the Seychelles’ largest trading partner - accounting for 66 percent of its exports and 33 percent of its imports - and its largest source of inbound tourists.
Trade in goods between the EU and the Seychelles is governed by the interim Economic Partnership Agreement (iEPA) signed in 2009, which provisionally came into effect in 2012 and is also in line with helping Seychelles to meet its commitments to the World Trade Organisation, of which it officially became a member in April this year.
The funds allocated from the EU under the 19th European Development Fund Regional Integration Support Programme (RISP) will be used for various measures, including helping the Seychelles Bureau of Standards improve its accreditation capabilities, the acquisition of new scanning equipment for the Seychelles Revenue Commission and help to improve sanitary and phytosanitary standards across the food supply chain.
Speaking to the local media at the signing ceremony, the Seychelles Minister for Foreign Affairs, Joel Morgan said the agreement for financial support of the European Union gave Seychelles the possibility to enhance its human and technical capacities in order to meet the requirements of the iEPA.
“It is something very important for Seychelles because it gives the country the possibility to move on in its development,” he said. “It will stimulate the local economy, especially through exchanges in the business sector, presenting the opportunity to meet our vision of people-centered economic development.”
According to the Acting EU Head of Delegation, Aldo Dell’Ariccia, the programme is only the beginning of some 40 million Euros in targeted funding support measures that the European Union is putting at the disposal of EPA signatory countries, which includes Seychelles, Madagascar, Mauritius and Zimbabwe.
The Political Dialogue is part of the Cotonou Agreement signed between the ACP (African Caribbean and Pacific) Group and the EU as a means of boosting sustainable development for those countries.
The parties are expected to meet for the next Political Dialogue session in June 2016.