Comesa offers big opportunity, says President


He was speaking at Seychelles International Airport after his return from the 13th ComesaPresident Michel talking to the press on arrival at the Seychelles International Airport yesterday heads of states and governments summit this week in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

He was met on arrival by Vice-President Joseph Belmont, the Chief of Defence Forces Brigadier Leopold Payet and Police Commissioner Ernest Quatre.

Mr Michel noted that as Seychelles moves forward under its economic reform programme and faces the challenges that come with these reforms, it is important for it to explore all the opportunities that arise, especially in the context of world trade liberalisation.

He said it is important that Seychelles, as a member of Comesa, does not miss out on the wealth of opportunities and benefits that regional groupings like Comesa, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Indian Ocean Commission can bring for our country.

He said taking part for the first time in the summit has been very important as it has made him more conscious of all the opportunities Seychelles can tap into.

Commenting on Comesa’s Customs Union, which was launched during the meeting, Mr Michel hailed the occasion as one that will allow for more liberal and competitive trade between member states.

He said Seychelles again stands to benefit through lower import and export tariffs, and there is also a possibility for foreign companies investing here to export goods to Comesa countries at competitive tariffs. 

Among the various immediate possibilities of benefits for Seychelles are access to Comesa’s common infrastructure and to a support fund available to countries in Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations with the European Union (EU).

Meanwhile, Mr Michel said discussions are starting to harmonise the positions of three main African organisations – Comesa, the SADC and the East African Community – so as to have a future economic community for the whole of Africa.

“Africa has a lot of potential, and in the coming years I believe there is the possibility for it to become the next continent of growth in the world. I think all African countries should contribute towards the development of this growth,” he said.  

Commenting on the issue of piracy, which Seychelles and Mauritius pushed hard to have on the summit’s agenda, Mr Michel said the two countries insisted that Comesa as an African organisation, together with partners such as the United Nations, has an important role to play in finding a peaceful solution to the Somalia conflict, which is the only way to guarantee an end to piracy.

Seychelles and Mauritius have also asked Comesa to take the necessary steps through the African Union to access funds which the EU places at the disposal of countries affected by piracy.

Mr Michel said he believes the two countries have managed through the summit to bring the piracy issue to the attention of other Comesa members and give the problem the attention it deserves.

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