THIS NEWS STORY is designed to help the public understand developments in the WTO. While every effort has been made to ensure the contents are accurate, it does not prejudice member governments’ positions.
Seychelles is committed to enact the outstanding laws to bring its trade regime in compliance with WTO rules before its accession, Principal Secretary for Finance Mr Steve Fanny told WTO members at the fifth meeting of the Working Party on 15 November 2013. Mr Fanny also paid tribute to the WTO membership’s “continuous efforts to welcome all countries, strong and weak, big and small, even the smallest among them to the organization”.
As part of the examination of Seychelles’ foreign trade regime, Working Party Chairperson Ms Al-Hinai presented the first version of the Draft Working Party Report, including Seychelles’ draft specific commitments and replies to questions from WTO members.
Members raised additional questions on a number of areas: monetary and fiscal policy; investment policy; state-owned enterprises and privatization; tariff rate quotas and tariff exemptions; taxation; sanitary and phytosanitary measures; technical barriers to trade; export restrictions; quantitative restrictions and import licensing; industrial subsidies; trading rights and trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights.
Seychelles updated members on its legislative developments – contained in its revised Legislative Action Plan - since the last Working Party meeting on 21 June. Mr Fanny announced that all remaining laws would be enacted between now and March 2014. Members asked for a timely follow-up.
On bilateral negotiations on market access for goods and services, Seychelles announced it had signed a bilateral agreement with the European Union on 23 October and with Thailand on 14 November. Seychelles has concluded and signed a total of seven bilateral agreements with Canada, the European Union, Mauritius, Oman, South Africa, Switzerland and Thailand. The Working Party Chairperson asked the acceding government and relevant members to work towards concluding the remaining bilateral market access negotiations as soon as possible in order to increase the probability of concluding Seychelles’ accession in the course of the coming year.
There was unanimous support by members to conclude the 18-year long accession process of Seychelles as soon as possible. Several members reiterated their call for flexibility to be provided to Seychelles to accelerate its accession process given the size of its economy. The pace of the accession process will depend on the input by the Government of Seychelles – namely, replies to members’ questions, draft/adopted legislation and an updated Legislative Action Plan. These inputs will determine the date of the next meeting of the Working Party.
Ms Al-Hinai welcomed the “positive, constructive and business-like atmosphere” and called for members to maintain similar working spirit in 2014 “to bring this accession home”.
- Previous Working Party meeting: 21 June 2013
- Working Party Chairperson: Ms Hilda Ali Al-Hinai (Oman)
- Application received: 31 May 1995
- Working Party established: 11 July 1995
- Working Party Secretary: Ms Petra Beslać
- Working Party Co-Secretary: Ms Onosetale Ayewoh
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