In an interview with Diplomacy & Beyond, the Principal Secretary Ambassador Michelle Murray, Department of foreign Affairs, the Republic of Seychelles talks about the strength of bilateral relations between India and Seychelles. She also elucidates in depth about the attractive investment opportunities existing in Seychelles for the Indian investors. Here are the edited excerpts…
Q. To begin with, Excellency how would you describe the bilateral relationship between Seychelles & India so far?
Seychelles and India share excellent bilateral relations. The two countries share commonalities both in terms of their longstanding histories and culture but also engage with each other on an equal footing with a sense of reciprocity and mutual respect. The partnership shared by India and Seychelles also highlights to the rest of the world how the worlds largest democracy can cooperate effectively with one of the worlds smallest.
Q. Reduction in the corporate tax rate, a skilled workforce, an efficient legal system and a transparent access to different legal sources are advantages your country offer to its investors. What more benefits are in store for the prospective investors from India?
Seychelles is country of diversity and as a result this unique blend of heritage and culture has made the country very open to the rest of the world; translating to an innate openness to foreign business and ideas. Furthermore Seychelles sits at the crossroads of east and west and presents a platform to take full advantage of the opportunities in both Asia and in the fastest growing continent; Africa.
Q. Tourism is one of the most important sector of Seychelles’ economy. About 15% of the formal work force in the country is directly employed in tourism sector. How do you plan to increase the footfall of Indian tourists to your country?
Seychelles is finding innovative ways to diversify its tourism arrival portfolio. India presents an unparalleled opportunity for Seychelles in terms of tourist arrivals. The Ministry of Tourism as well as other local tourism stakeholders have for the last few years increased their footprint in India through targeted marketing and promotion in the sub-continent. Today this is paying dividend as we are seeing a steady increase in Indian arrivals to Seychelles. Seychelles in our view is also an appealing product for the Indian traveller not only because of the rich cultural, gastronomic and historic ties linking the countries but also because of the holiday experience it offers which not many destination can rival.
Q. What is your development plan to increase bilateral trade between India and Seychelles?
Seychelles and India’s cooperation portfolio is vastranging from health services , to military cooperation to infrastructure projects. However in my view the real motivator for a trade surplus between our two nations rests with the people. People to people contacts are essential in this endeavour. In addition the Indian community many of which are well respected entrepreneurs which have long since settled in Seychelles are the main drivers in fueling this increase. As such, the opportunity are boundless.
Q. The discovery of significant oil deposits on the coastlines of the Seychelles is sparking new interest among international investors. Please enlighten about the same.
There are currently companies prospecting for hydrocarbon deposits in Seychelles extensive Exclusive Economic Zone. The signs are promising! Should this be successful, Government will look to elaborate an investment model which will allow for a win win situation for the Seychellois people as well as for potential investors. What we do not want however is to become a ‘petro-state.’ The discovery of oil will add an additional pathway to allowing for even greater diversification of our economy.
Q. Are you preparing to hold road shows in India, in near future, to attract investment in trade, investment and tourism sectors?
We have already held numerous business fora amongst many other activities in India and we will continue to actively pursue such avenues to further highlight the opportunities which exist. There is also political will to advance this partnership as demonstrated by the visits to India of both the President of the Republic of Seychelles, Mr Danny Faure and the Speaker of the National Assembly along with members of the legislature. We hope to add even more visibility in the future.
Q. What additional benefits can a tourist from India expect to avail in Seychelles?
The same ocean bathes both of our nations so the Indian tourist will feel at home away from and experience the legendary Seychellois hospitality first hand.
Q. What kind of tax regimes does Seychelles offer for making investment in the Tourism, Agriculture, Energy and Fisheries sectors?
Seychelles has spearheaded the notion of the Blue Economy. All these sectors which you have mentioned in our view pertain directly to its realization. The Blue economy encompassing a vast array of fields offers an untapped opportunity to help both our countries reach their highest potential and achieve their desired developmental trajectory. Seychelles has very forward looking regimes in place for those entities wishing through technology transfer, and research and development to invest in the ocean economy.
Q. What is your message for Diplomacy & Beyond magazine?
Having read your publication it is clear that it is fast becoming the benchmark for foreign policy issues in the region. The analysis of shifting geopolitical tendencies and discourses on current affairs as well as succinct opinion pieces are helping to positively shape our view of an ever changing world. For this I congratulate you.