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.
The deal — the Protocol on the Accession of the Republic of Seychelles — was officially signed on the margins of the General Council by WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo and Seychelles’ Minister of Finance, Trade and Investment, Pierre Laporte, and is subject to domestic ratification by Seychelles’ Parliament.
WTO members congratulated Seychelles while acknowledging that the accession process was long and challenging for a small island developing state like Seychelles. Seychelles’ accession to the WTO will strengthen the multilateral trading system and advance the WTO closer to the goal of trade universality, members stressed.
In his address to the membership, DG Azevêdo paid special tribute to the government of Seychelles for this “historic achievement” and for sending “a clear signal to all its trading partners that it is ready to engage fully in the multilateral trading system and in the global economy. Seychelles’ accession is another sign of the continued importance of the multilateral trading system.” His full speech is available here.
“Today is a historic day for Seychelles”, Minister Laporte declared. “WTO membership will bring immense benefits to our economy, from businesses to consumers. The Seychelles Government and its People have been looking forward for so long to be part of this international family. ”
His full speech is available here.
Ms Hilda Al-Hinai (Oman), Chairperson of the Working Party on the Accession of Seychelles, paid tribute to WTO members and to the delegation of Seychelles for the “continuous efforts, goodwill and spirit of compromise shown all around, particularly in the critical final stages. With the acceptance of each new member, the community of most-favoured nations continues to grow stronger and moves ever closer to becoming truly global.”
Seychelles originally applied for WTO membership in 1995 and the Working Party concluded the negotiations on 17 October 2014.
The list of Seychelles’ commitments is available here.
Read DG Azevêdo’s 2014 report on WTO Accessions here.
DG Azevêdo’s speech
Thank you Mr Chairman.
It gives me great pleasure to offer my sincere congratulations to the Republic of Seychelles on this historic achievement.
I would like to pay tribute to President James Michel for his leadership in pursuing WTO membership, and for undertaking the far-reaching reforms that have made it possible to conclude the accession negotiations successfully.
I would also like to pay tribute to Minister Laporte, and his team, who have done so much to deliver this result. We are pleased to welcome you here today.
It has been a long road — and it has not always been easy. Indeed, the process has taken 19 years.
But that just underlines how much work has been done — and what an achievement this is.
Of course WTO membership is not an end in itself.
Rather it is a means of: enhancing your integration into the global economy; boosting growth and development in Seychelles; and, ultimately, improving the lives and prospects of every citizen of your country.
By concluding its accession negotiations, Seychelles has sent a clear signal to all its trading partners that it is ready to engage fully in the multilateral trading system and in the global economy.
And the WTO can make a particularly significant difference for small economies like Seychelles.
Indeed, this occasion is very timely as the world is celebrating now the International Year of Small Island Developing States.
With WTO membership you are building new bridges to the rest of the world.
And you are gaining a platform to make your voice heard at the global level.
While I think this is an important moment for Seychelles, it is also very important for the WTO.
This accession is another sign of the continued importance of the multilateral trading system.
In recent weeks we have shown that we can implement important negotiated outcomes, and this accession is a further vote of confidence.
Indeed, I think the conclusion of this accessions negotiation is a tribute to all WTO members.
So now I think I can speak for everyone when I say: congratulations once again — and welcome to the WTO.
Speech by H.E. Pierre Laporte
Your Excellency, Ambassador Jonathan Fried, Chairman of the General Council of the World Trade Organization,
Mr. Roberto Azevedo, Director General of the WTO,
Representatives of WTO members,
Members of staff of the WTO Secretariat,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today is a great day for Seychelles and it is a historic day for the Seychelles as well as for the World Trade Organization. For Seychelles, as it is the conclusion of a long and arduous accession process, and for the WTO, as the first non-least-developed African country to join the Organization after the grandfather clause. It is also worth noting that Seychelles is the only completed accession this year and will, hopefully, become the 161st WTO member upon accession.
Mr. Chairman, it has been nineteen years since Seychelles first submitted its application to join the WTO, and almost six years since we re-initiated our accession process with the submission of our Memorandum of Foreign Trade Regime in 2010.
Accession to the WTO has been for us like a relationship that starts with courting, then engagement and ending up in marriage. In this process we had to make a lot of compromise, sacrifices and a lot of wooing. We are now in the final moment of our engagement period and our relationship will be affirmed into “marriage” upon ratification of our Protocol of Accession. This courtship has not been an easy one, and during “marriage” we would still need to ensure that we keep to the commitments that we made.
Mr. Chairman, the Seychelles Government and its people have been looking forward for so long to be part of this international family. Membership of the WTO is very important for Seychelles. It will bring immense benefits to our economy, from businesses to consumers.
The reforms that we had to undertake during the accession process have already brought about important benefits. Our laws and policies are now at par with best international standards and our private sector has already began to reap the benefits of a more predictable and transparent trading system. Our country now has a platform which provides us as a small island nation with an equal opportunity as our large counterparts, to make our voice heard on trade issues. Seychelles will increase its visibility on the international stage.
Mr. Chairman, but Seychelles will not be the only one to gain from this process. As a small island state who has transformed its economy and which has gone through this long period of accession, we have a lot to contribute to this organisation, especially in areas like environment and fisheries.
Mr. Chairman, the leadership and guidance of our President, His Excellency Mr. James Michel, to the process has been crucial. On his behalf, I would like to express his gratitude, and that of the Government and People of Seychelles, to all members of our working party for the support and flexibility granted during our negotiations. I would also like to convey our gratitude to all our bilateral partners for their support. It has at times been intense, but through understanding and cooperation, Seychelles has made many life-long friends.
Accession would not have been a reality had it not been for the exceptionally hard work and absolute dedication of my staff. I also want to recognize the important contribution of my predecessor as former Trade minister, Vice President Danny Faure. I also wish to thank the staff of other ministries, agencies and other institutions back home for their commendable support toward the accession process.
On the side of the WTO, I would like to express the sincere appreciation of the Government of Seychelles to Director-General, Mr. Roberto Azevedo. We also thank his team at the Secretariat, especially Mr. Chiedu Osakwe and Ms Petra Beslac, for the invaluable support accorded to our team during accession, which went beyond and above what was required of them. Seychelles has been lucky to have such dedicated individuals working on our dossier.
Last but definitely not least, Mr. Chairman, I want to take this opportunity to thank the Chairperson of our Working Party, Ms Hilda Al-Hinai. Hilda has been simply an exceptional and a formidable Chairperson, always fighting for Seychelles’ cause and ensuring that our agenda was always kept in the forefront. Like I said at the conclusion of the last Working Party meeting, Hilda treated Seychelles’ dossier as her own country’s, and she treated our team as her own family. Hilda from the bottom of our hearts, we say a big Thank You.
On this note, Mr. Chairman, I will end by once again thanking each and everyone of you for welcoming us in this great family.
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