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.
Pierre Laporte, Minister of Finance, Trade and Investment for Seychelles, said “significant progress” had been made in the accession negotiations since the Working Party last met in November 2013.
He highlighted a number of important domestic economic policy and legislative reforms that Seychelles had undertaken to ensure consistency of its trade practices with WTO rules. These included the enactment of outstanding legislation related to sanitary and phytosanitary measures and the protection of copyright and industrial property.
“Undertaking these reforms presented a particularly strong challenge for Seychelles, as a small and vulnerable island state, and also one of the 'smallest' trying to accede to the WTO,” Mr Laporte said. “But we have made significant movement during the last few years, which is bringing our trade regime to the required level of competence and global integration."
Hilda Ali Al-Hinai (Oman), chairperson of the Accession Working Party, noted that Seychelles had now completed bilateral negotiations on market access with eight WTO members that requested talks (Canada, the European Union, Japan, Mauritius, Oman, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand), with only one negotiation on the threshold of conclusion.
A number of members took the floor to welcome progress in the negotiations and the substantial efforts made by the Seychelles government in carrying out domestic legislative reforms. Some further clarification was sought by a number of members on various commitments in the draft Working Party report; Mr Laporte said his government would seek to provide clarification as soon as possible.
Ms Al-Hinai concluded by calling on members to submit drafting suggestions for the Working Party report by 25 July so that the Seychelles government could provide expeditious replies and allow the WTO Secretariat to produce a final draft Working Party report by the end of July. She also called on Seychelles to update and submit a final version of its legislative action plan and for Seychelles and members to conclude the bilateral negotiations as soon as possible.
Ms Al-Hinai further suggested holding the next Working Party meeting in the second half of September with the aim of concluding the accession negotiations by the end of 2014. Drawing an analogy to the ongoing World Cup, she said members and Seychelles had played 90 minutes and were now into extra time, and that she hoped both sides would score by finishing the negotiations soon.
- Previous Working Party meeting: 15 November 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
- Director of the Accessions Division: Mr Chiedu Osakwe
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