Seychelles ratified the interim Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in May 2010. The Agreement is provisionally applied since 14th May 2012. The interim EPA provides duty and quota free access to the EU market for exports from Seychelles and is accompanied by aid to boost trade capacity. With the exceptions for certain products that are considered sensitive, Seychelles will gradually open 98% of its market to European exports over the course of 15 years. Furthermore, the Agreement covers provisions on rules of origin, development cooperation, fisheries, trade defence instruments and dispute settlement. It is therefore an improvement for Seychelles on the unilateral duty and quota free regime it enjoyed so far because it encourages regional integration and strengthens a partnership approach with the EU. This is the first EPA to enter into the implementation stage in Africa, Seychelles is candidate to the WTO since 1995.
Trade in goods
The main economic mainstay of Seychelles is fishing and tourism. Seychelles is a net importer: 90 % of what is consumed has to be imported whilst the export base is limited to mainly fish and fish products.
EU goods exports to Seychelles in 2012 : € 200 million (+ 2 % on 2010)
EU goods imports from Seychelles in 2012 : € 185 million ( + 10% on 2010)
EU imports are mainly fish and fisheries products. EU exports to Seychelles are concentrated in machinery and transport equipment, telecommunications equipment and other manufactured goods.
Seychelles trade remained concentrated with the EU: in 2010, EU purchased 56.3% of Seychelles' exports and represented 28.4% of its imports. Other major export partners include Japan (10.1%) and Thailand (6.5%). Other major import partners are Saudi Arabia (21.3 %), South Africa (8.5 %), Singapore (6.1 %) and India (3.3%).
Development through trade
Seychelles is beneficiary to relevant technical assistance from EU funded programmes for implementation of the interim EPA which aims to develop trade and sustainable growth. The EPA will be the stepping stone to help Seychelles integrate the world economy and share the opportunities offered by globalisation. In addition, the EU and the Seychelles have positively concluded in June 2010 the negotiations for a new fisheries agreement (2011-2013). This agreement foresees 53,000 tons of reference catches with an EU financial compensation (not including fees paid by the fishing vessels) of EUR 5,600,000 per year.
Regional Trading environment
Seychelles' trade policy is orientating towards regional integration and joined COMESA Free Trade Area in June 2009. Seychelles is a member of the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) and was also re-admitted to SADC in 2008. In this framework, Seychelles has benefited from EU-funded technical assistance in many areas of trade and development.