Seychelles undergoes WTO First Trade Policies and Practices Review

December 09, 2022

The Minister of Finance, National Planning and Trade, Mr. Naadir Hassan, lead a high level delegation at the first review of the trade policies and practices of Seychelles, at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), in Geneva on 5 and 7 December 2022.

Trade Policy Reviews are an exercise mandated in the 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. During the review, the Secretariat and Government reports are discussed by the WTO’s full membership in the Trade Policy Review Body (TPRB).

On 26 April 2015, Seychelles became the 161st WTO member. As a result of the amendment to Annex 3 of the WTO Trade Policy Review Cycles in July 2017, the First Trade Policy Review of the Republic of Seychelles is due 7 years after its accession and every 7 years thereafter. Accordingly, the First Trade Policy Review of the Republic of Seychelles was due in 2022.

In his opening statement, Minister Hassan highlighted the importance that Seychelles attached to the Trade Policy Review.

The Republic of Seychelles considers the trade policy review process an important pillar of the WTO. A demanding but worthwhile exercise: it helps to achieve transparency and a greater understanding of Members' trading policies and practices and their impact on the multilateral trading system. It additionally provides a comprehensive picture of trade policies and their implementation. It shows us where we are in our reform efforts and what needs to be addressed.”

The basis for the Seychelles review was a report by the WTO Secretariat and a report by the Government of the Seychelles[2]. The reports provided detailed information and relevant analysis for understanding the Seychelles economy's challenges and opportunities, with a particular focus on Seychelles' trade policy and practices.

Seychelles was praised for having made steady progress in implementing its WTO accession commitments and for its active and constructive role in the multilateral trading system. Members also congratulated Seychelles for its open trade regime, with one of the lowest MFN average applied tariffs among WTO Members (2.7% in 2022). Members also commended Seychelles for the steps taken towards further enhancing its foreign investment regime, notably by introducing a positive listing approach of activities open to FDI. However, 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 to make its technical assistance needs to be known, including those related to trade facilitation.

Minister Hassan highlighted Seychelles' economic and trade performances during the review period, touched on Seychelles' diversification strategy, and highlighted the vulnerability of Seychelles as a Small Island Developing Country (SIDS).

“I expressed my gratitude for the general acknowledgment by members that Seychelles has made significant progress 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.

Minister 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. And welcomed the wishes of several members to enhance the existing collaboration between Seychelles and their respective countries. Minister Hassan also held some members' interest in working closely with Seychelles in different areas, such as the digital economy.

“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.

The First Trade Policy Review of Seychelles has offered WTO Members an excellent opportunity to deepen their understanding of recent developments in, and challenges to, Seychelles' trade, economic, and investment policies since its WTO accession in 2015.

Minister Hassan was accompanied at the meeting by Mr. Francis Lebon, Principal Secretary of the Department of Trade, Mr. Ricky Barbé, Director General of the Trade Division, and Ms. Véronique Brutus, Seychelles Trade Attaché to the WTO in Geneva.

The link below is the reaction of Minister Hassan upon the conclusion of the review

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