- The economic links between Seychelles and Mauritius are to be strengthened following the signing of several agreements by the political and business leadership of the two Indian Ocean nations. Cooperation in the tourism sector was agreed upon and Seychelles was allowed to resume fish exports to Mauritius.
Mauritian Prime Minister Paul Bérenger led a major delegation to the Seychellois capital Victoria, arriving on Thursday. It was his first official visit to Seychelles since President James Michel took power here in April this year. Diplomatic and economic ties were on the agenda.
President Michel and Prime Minister Bérenger signed "a number of agreements" during the encounter, according to the Seychellois government. These included "two Memorandums of Understanding on tourism and cooperation and one on joint efforts to fight drug trafficking."
One immediate effect of the summit between the two state leaders was a partial lifting of the Mauritian ban on export of the bourgeois fish from Seychelles. Prime Minister Bérenger on Friday announced that fisheries companies in Seychelles could now export bourgeois to hotels in Mauritius.
Mr Bérenger explained that the ban was imposed after scientists claimed that bourgeois in Mauritian waters were feeding on corals believed to be toxic and could hence have a negative impact on people's health. "At this point a general ban was imposed," Mr Bérenger explained. But he said the problem was "an issue of the past."
When speaking about the bilateral trade agreement currently in the making to facilitate commerce between Seychelles and Mauritius, Prime Minister Bérenger said one of the major hurdles Seychelles would have to overcome is it foreign exchange difficulties. "It is my sincere hope that Seychelles break free from this vicious cycle," he said.
Talking about plan to develop a regional seafood hub in Mauritius, Mr Bérenger emphasised that it would not be in competition with or even at the expense of the tuna cannery in Seychelles. "We are planning to produce pre-cooked tuna fillets to export to Europe which is not being done here, but whatever know-how and expertise we acquired we will be happy to share with Seychelles," he affirmed.
Also the main business leaders of Seychelles and Mauritius met during the summit in Victoria. The Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry signed a memorandum of understanding of deepened economic ties on Friday.
Albert Payet of the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce also expressed his hope for continued Mauritian investment in Seychelles, which currently amounts to some US$ 80 million. Mr Payet said that Mauritius had the know-how and capital to give Seychelles' economic climate a further boost.
The business leaders further noted that a double taxation avoidance agreement being formulated would ease inter-island business developments. Seychelles' Minister for Economic Planning, Jacquelin Dugasse, said this agreement would help the two countries could move forward with a joint agenda to "confront the challenges of globalisation and turn them into opportunities."
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