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Seychelles and the People’s Republic of China | 13 November 2019

Seychelles and the People’s Republic of China

Vice-President Meriton and Minister Ni shake hands after signing the agreement on exportation of our fish and fishery products to the People’s Republic of China (Photo: Jude Morel)

Three agreements signed to boost trade

 

Seychelles will now be able to export a number of new species of fish and sea products and other commodities like coconut oil/essence, cinnamon essence to China following the signing of three agreements yesterday.

Minister Ni Yuefeng of the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China signed all three memoranda of understanding (MoU), while Vice-President Vincent Meriton, Fisheries and Agriculture Minister Charles Bastienne and Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning Minister Maurice Loustau-Lalanne signed for Seychelles.

The first protocol between the General Administration of Customs of The People’s Republic of China and the Seychelles Bureau of Standards concerns standards of inspection, quarantine and veterinary sanitary requirements for wild marine fishing aquatic products to be exported from Seychelles to the People’s Republic of China.

Vice-President Meriton signed the agreement on behalf of the Seychelles Bureau of Standards at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This protocol provides the framework for exportation of our fish and fishery products to the People’s Republic of China.

Addressing the press after the signing of the MoU, Minister Loustau-Lalanne noted that “during the year Seychelles exported R3 million of yellow fin tuna to China and we imported more than 200 million Chinese yuan of various products. But now with this agreement it will allow a number of new species, fish and sea products that we have in our ocean to be exported to China. So it will facilitate new businesses to grow. We have launched our aquaculture framework and we hope that we can target new species that we can also send to China. It is to be noted that before we did have issues with regard to certain fish which is in abundance in Seychelles that were blocked in the ports in China. This agreement will allow us to freely export this type of fish which is a delicacy and well liked on the Chinese market. But it also allows us to export other products that we have in Seychelles such as coconut oil/essence, cinnamon essence and I know there are already businesses that have tested the market. The market is responsive and I am very excited about this. I also know that Minister Ni played a special part in fast-tracking this agreement.”

Do we have enough fish to provide this new market? Minister Loustau-Lalanne and trade principal secretary Cillia Mangroo explained that Seychelles will export what it has and it will be done in a regulated way by the Seychelles Fishing Authority.

“There are many companies who are doing the by-catch processing and this will be an encouragement for them. But we have to have quality products. Currently, we are mainly exporting our fish to Europe and with the change in the economic landscape, we have to find new markets. By-catch products are more popular in China than in Europe, which is advantageous for us,” said PS Mangroo.

Minister Ni said he has come to Seychelles to implement the important instructions from People’s Republic of China President Xi Jinping to open our doors even wider to the people and Seychelles as a country.

“I believe the signing of this protocol between Vice-President Meriton and myself is a win-win situation outcome for our countries. Seychelles has a big sea area and you have a great potential for marine, fishing and aquatic production. It will be good news for Seychelles to export its high quality fishery products to China which needs the high quality fishery products. Our cooperation is not limited to export and import of marine products, however we also have potential in cooperation in other aspects such as investments. At present our political relationship has developed in a rapid and healthy manner. Our objective is also to pursue successful economic and trade cooperation. After my visit, I am confident that I will bring back fruitful achievements to China,” said Minister Ni.

The second agreement on cooperation of animal and plant quarantine was signed on the Seychelles part by Minister Bastienne at the Maison Collette, Victoria.

The MoU allows market access for potential export and import of fish and plants. One term of the MoU is to conduct sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) tests within both countries before formal export can begin.

“Before we do any market access we must have an understanding of the potential pest that can affect both countries if there is trade potential. Sanitary (human and animal health) and phytosanitary (plant health) measures apply to domestically produced food or local animal and plant diseases, as well as to products coming from other countries,” said Marc Naiken, the chief executive of the National Biosecurity Agency (NBA).

Sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures are measures to protect humans, animals, and plants from diseases, pests, or contaminants.

“If we know the types of pest and diseases that exist in China we can compare them to the pests and diseases that exist in Seychelles and analyse the types of effects they would have if they are introduced in a tropical climate,” said Mr Naiken.

A timeframe has not been set to carry out the analysis yet, but Mr Naiken noted that the MoU is silent on the time and an analysis is supposed to be carried out.

“Our trade in plants is very limited compared to our fish trade, through the pest risk analysis we can deduce what types of plants can be imported from China,” said Mr Naiken.

The third and last MoU was signed by Minister Loustau-Lalanne on behalf of the Seychelles Revenue Commission (SRC) at Liberty House.

The MoU deals with cooperation between the two parties and makes provisions for assistance in investigations relating to customs offences and provisions of technical assistance among others. The MoU aims to establish and develop friendly, cooperative relations and mutual assistance between the two sides and to promote and facilitate bilateral trade between the two countries; provide cooperation to combat offences against customs legislations that are prejudicial to the economic, social, commercial, cultural and fiscal interests of the two countries; assist in areas of investigation on alleged customs offences and provide technical assistance and capacity building to the Seychelles Customs administration.

Trade principal secretary Mangroo noted that this is an important step for the ministry and customs division as it will help in obtaining information in a timely manner on cases suspected of infringing customs legislation, by having a direct channel of communication.

“With modernisation now we have lots of issues coming up that we need to combat; so all the time customs officers need to be trained in new areas. We always look at what other countries are doing, especially as we are a small country, we do not have much experience. These countries are able to pass on their expertise and knowledge to us, especially when it comes to intellectual property and digitalisation. We are also trying to have agreements with our main trading partners in order for customs to get information when we have issues when we suspect of products which are under declared and suspicious,” noted PS Mangroo.

Paul Barra, commissioner of customs, added that “we are also looking forward for assistance and funding with equipment such as scanning machines that will speed up the process of scanning. This will allow us to pay more attention to passengers and people of interests crossing our borders. The MoU that we signed today will also contribute towards identifying cases where people are trying to default the system by submitting false documentations. With regard to training, we are happy to hear that China is financing the World Customs Organisation (WCO) with whom we have a MoU. We will benefit from training offered by WCO and even attachment and technical assistance. It will be an opportunity also for the young generation who would like to join customs; they can rest assured that the training they will get will be of high quality, now that we have a MoU with them”.

The signing of the three MoUs was also attended by the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Seychelles Guo Wei, Lindy Ernesta of the department of foreign affairs, members of the Chinese delegation and representatives of the Ministry of Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning.

 

Vidya Gappy / Christophe Zialor

 

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