On the occasion of the visit of H.E. Mr. James Alix Michel, President of Seychelles, to India, Asia News Agency caught up with H.E. Mr. Dick Patrick, the Ambassador of Seychelles in New Delhi. Excerpts from the interview are reproduced below.
ANA: India and Seychelles have shared a close relationship since independence of the island nation in 1976. As a result of a common colonial history, India and Seychelles are part of the commonwealth. What do both the countries share in common on this account? Has it helped them to be a part of the same club of commonwealth countries?
H.E.: India and Seychelles belong to the same Common wealth club of nations for the simple historical fact that both our countries were colonized for a period in their past by the British. Today as members of the Common wealth what binds India and Seychelles together is the undeniable truth that we share a common vision for the future. We firmly believe that we share a common destiny. The coming together of Common wealth countries stems from a common realization and vision that the artificial boundaries imposed upon them rather than segregate and a portioned them has in fact created the enabling condition to bring them together; to work together for a common prosperous future. The countries of the commonwealth because of their troublesome historic past has come together to mould a new and better future; where they are true architects of their own destinies.
ANA: Excellency it is our understanding that Seychelles follows a policy of “positive” nonalignment. Is it right to assume that nonalignment has lost its sheen over the years and that it is debatable whether it is still a relevant concept?
H.E.: If one looks at the composition, the membership of the non-alignment one will quickly come to the conclusion that they form the bulk of the categorized “developing countries” and if you analyse the fundamental challenges, realities exigencies and opportunities facing the member countries of the Non Alignment one will undoubtedly conclude that yes the non-alignment is still relevant and has a crucial role to play in world affairs. The last special Ministerial Meeting organized by the Non Aligned Movement in Manila, Philippines in March this current year addressing the role of interfaith dialogue in the promotion of peace and development, crystallizes the new vision and mandate of the said organization.Read More
ANA: Seychelles strongly supports the principle of reduced superpower presence in the Indian Ocean and your Government is one of the proponents of the Indian Ocean zone of peace concept. Asia is a predominantly maritime-configured region with India and China both having strong interests in the Indian Ocean. And the US is already established itself in Diego Garcia. Excellency, in this light, what is the status of the concept of Indian Ocean as a zone of peace?
H.E.: The concept of Indian Ocean as a zone of peace is a very dynamic, vibrant and actualized concept. The uni polar world in which we live today has immortalized the notion that there cannot be sustainable development without peace and we in the Indian Ocean, shares the same vision and philosophy. Today, however, peace in the India Ocean is being threatened by the scourge of Piracy and Seychelles development as you know is very much affected by the act of Piracy in our waters. Our livelihood, our survival as a nation is at state. We rely heavily on the sea. Our fishing industry, tourism, imports and exports are seriously affected. In fact, when you come to think of it, the scourge of Piracy affects directly almost all the countries of the Indian Ocean. We have to bring peace back into our waters, borders and people. We are partnering with neighbouring India Ocean countries, countries with which we have bilateral relations, international organizations and institutions and the international community at large to mobilize resources and opinion to tackle the scourge of Piracy in the India Ocean. The Indian Ocean has to remain a “Zone of Peace”.
ANA: During your visit, Seychelles and India have signed a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement. This will enhance the investment environment further for Indian businesses. Excellency, could you indicate for our readers, the investment opportunities that your country offers.
H.E.: The signing of the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement is a very crucial development for enticing Investments in our two economies. It guarantees that investments in our two economies are safe, protected and encouraged at the highest level. Investment opportunities in Seychelles are unlimited and the business environment is a very conducive one for serious Indian investors. The main investment opportunities are; Tourism, fisheries, commercial port, ship repairs facilities, manufacturing, agriculture, offshore services, telecommunication services, oil exploration etc. for detailed information www.sib.sc or mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Seychelles offers very attractive advantages to inventors: A stable political environment and government policies which welcome and support local and foreign investment An investment code which provides a legal climate that is conducive to greater flow of investment and business Ideal location in the Indian Ocean, midway between the largest trading and manufacturing block of Asia and Europe, and a business stepping stone into Africa. Favourable time zone that allows working hours to overlap with major financial centres Labour force, fluent in English, French and Creole Excellent sea and air links with Europe, USA, Asia and Africa Seychelles boasts a telecommunications system which compares well with that of many countries in the developed world Port Victoria is at the heart of Seychelles economy with two deep-water berths, extensive space for container handling and modern cargo handling equipment An excellent and well developed infrastructure, including electricity, water supplies and road network Good educational system and peaceful living environment to bring up families Strategic location outside the cyclone belt
ANA: Excellency, Seychelles has successfully completed the first phase of its economic reform and has now embarked on the second phase which largely relates to business environment. Could you indicate the manner in which Seychelles is promoting a business friendly environment? And how will this help more Indian companies to establish businesses in your country.
H.E.: As, you rightly pointed out, the first phase of the macro economies reform has been successfully implemented and the focus now is how to promote a more business friendly environment. As part of the package to promote Seychelles as an investment friendly jurisdiction the government has completed a critical analysis of our Taxation System and has sought the approval of the National Assembly for a very comprehensive, well-articulated and simplified Tax system. The new transparent and predictable piece of tax legislation clearly defines the parameters and the taxation regime for serious investments into the economy and attempts to bring down the cost for doing business in Seychelles. And it is in this connection that the government has seen it fit to create one revenue authority. The said Revenue Authority will see to it that all tax related issues are streamlined in a transparent and accountable manner. The government is also revisiting all the laws, regulations and mechanisms governing investments with the view to create a level playing field for all and adequately equipping the Seychelles Investment Bureau so that it really becomes the one stop shop for investments into Seychelles. The Second phase of the economic reform programme has a lot to do with the creation of a conducive environment for investments into Seychelles.
ANA: Excellency, piracy in the Indian Ocean and particularly off the coast of Somalia has the potential to disrupt the economy and tourism of Island nations like yours. Your country has praised efforts of the Indian navy for their anti-piracy operations. Have there been any further discussions on this issue during your interactions with Indian officials? What is the other important take-away from this visit?
H.E.: Allow me first and foremost to express our deepest appreciation and gratitude to the government and people of India for its unwavering and unconditional assistance, support and cooperation extended to Seychelles in our fight to combat the scourge of Piracy in our waters and in the India Ocean as a whole. We value very highly the excellent understanding and cooperation that exists between our two countries and we are both committed to tackle the piracy problem head on and we will also endeavour to working with all countries in the Indian ocean region and the international community to find a lasting solution to the problem.
Seychelles as you know is at forefront in the fight against piracy and together with our partners we are organizing an International Symposium in Seychelles on the 12th and 13th of July 2010. The principal objective of the symposium is to focus on the piracy problem and to mobilize and sensitize the international community to adopt a very strong stance against Piracy.
ANA: India has been a partner in the development of Seychelles’ in many sectors like infrastructure, economy, social as well as political. Under the Indian Technical and Economic co-operation (ITEC) programme a number of citizens of your country have benefited from training courses conducted in India in both civilian and defence field. A number of Indian doctors are employed in Seychelles’ health service sector. What does the future hold in augmenting these ties?
H.E.: For a number of years now, trade advertisements between our two countries have not been to the desired level. The Two major obstacles that have been lying in our path in our quest to achieve satisfactory level of trade and investment between India and Seychelles are; The market size: Seychelles is a small country with a population of only 87,000.00 people. No direct air and sea connectivity. Given the economic reforms taking strong foothold in Seychelles, characterized by very attractive incentives on offer to invest in the multitude sectors, the stage is not set for Seychellois and Indian businesses to partner and impact positively on the economic development of our countries. The BIPPA which has just been signed by our two governments is a crucial element and is regarded as a catalyst by our business communities in enticing serious investments in to our economies. Seychelles is optimistic and look forward to the day when our two countries will effectively sign a Double Taxation and Avoidance Agreement (DTA) which will give final propulsion to our economic partnership drive.
ANA: There have been several instances of cultural exchange between the two countries. These have helped in building people-to people relations. Your comments Excellency on this important aspect of cooperation.
H.E.: Cultural exchanges between our two countries are taking place in a vibrant and dynamic manner. With the advance and help of IT Seychelles and India has become very connected culturally. One does not have to physically travel kilometres of air or sea to appreciate another’s culture. Through the internet and social websites Indian and Seychellois alike are in constant and systematic contact. Other medians which allow our two peoples to appreciate each other’s culture better is through films and music. Indian films and music are now popular in Seychelles. Notwithstanding the above, I believe that the real qualitative and quantitative “rapprochement” between our two peoples will become a reality the minute we have direct air linkages between our two countries. And this we are convinced will happen very soon!
- Date June 21, 2012
- Tags Interviews