6th Forum of the "UCCOI"

20 October 2010 | Enterpreneurship Development

6th Forum of the "UCCOI"
Address by President James Michel

Chairpersons of the Indian Ocean Chambers of Commerce,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning, and welcome to Seychelles,

We all come from island states. Each of the countries has unique qualities, of which we are rightfully proud, but we also have a shared outlook on the world that results largely from our characteristics as islands. We have each been shaped by the challenges islands present. We have also been influenced by the opportunities that islands offer.
This is indeed the reason why we are gathered here today -- because we know that our islands and our ocean have something special to offer to the world, and we are determined to create even more opportunities for the benefit of our communities.

A shared history and culture bring us together. These should also serve to unite us, as never before, in order to consolidate our individual capacities and the economic power of our region.

Never before has the adage No man is an island been so true: no nation, no organisation, and evidently no person, can survive alone. We live in an inter-dependent world, and we need one another. This is what gives meaning to our exchanges and cooperation programmes among our small island developing states.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
This forum is an important platform for dialogue and consultation among our business communities. It will help them to identify new trading possibilities and new avenues for partnership in the Indian Ocean region, whilst making it possible to undertake a collective assessment of our weaknesses and strengths.
The world is still reeling from the recent economic recession. No country has been spared the difficulties. In the case of Seychelles, we have embarked on a massive macro-economic programme since 2008, in response to the recession. This is a programme which positions our economy for sustainable economic progress, with the forecast of a 4.5% growth in 2010.

However, we have yet to overcome all the problems brought about by the world crisis. Our revenue from the tourism industry, for example, has dropped. Our economy has felt the impact of increased prices of goods on the world markets. Finally, the international financial institutions have been forced to adopt a rigid position with regards to loans and interest rates. This has put more pressure on our economy.

In this respect, our joint efforts will be the deciding factor in the future of our regional economy.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
The 6th edition of this forum is being held at a time when we are facing new challenges in the business sector and regional investment. Piracy has become a major obstacle to regional development. Whether directly or indirectly, piracy affects our economies, without exception. It hits at the very foundation -- the fisheries revenue, trade and recreational navigation. All of our countries have a long-established maritime tradition and a way of life that is linked to the sea. We, as a region, have to unite against this scourge. I am happy that the Indian Ocean Commission has engaged itself, on our behalf, in a regional project to participate in the struggle against piracy.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
We must encourage a culture of innovation and a spirit of enterprise in order to create more economic and social opportunities. We also need to be pragmatic. We have to make the most of openings and not be tied down by past mistakes. In order to ensure a better future for the region, we must adopt common objectives, based on our island affinities. The slogan Nou Pre, Nou Lwen (We are far, yet so near) that is used on world Creole day during the Creole festival, may be applied to the whole region, as we strive for greater mobility among our populations, easier flow of capital, and more exchanges of goods and services, and also of knowledge and ideas.
I am happy to note that certain forms of integration have already begun at different levels of our economies. The upcoming signature of the protocol of agreement for the creation of a regional label for our tourism industry, for example, is the sort of cooperation that we are seeking. The Government of Seychelles is giving its full support to this useful and timely regional initiative.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is up to us to suggest ways of making our common objectives a reality. Let us be proactive and innovative. Let our businessmen and businesswomen, and our young entrpreneurs, venture beyond our shores and show the world that we have more than just the sun, sand and sea; that we are serious and motivated; and that we have business know-how. We are situated in a part of the world where we can be the link between East and West. It is up to us to prove it, in peace and harmony.
Ladies and Gentlemen from the Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mayotte and Reunion Island, and my dear Seychellois colleagues,
It is a great pleasure and honour, to have you all here together today, and to offer you our hospitality, of which we have established a proud reputation envied by many across the world.

We have come together, today, to talk, discuss, exchange ideas and work together. We have a saying that we need to talk to our friends first before we talk to others. We are meeting as friends who can achieve much together.

(Ozordi, nou zwenn ansanm, pour nou koze, diskite, fer lesanz nide e travay ansanm. Nou toultan dir nou bezwen koz avek nou dalon avan nou koz avek lezot. Nou zwenn koman bann zanmi senser ki kapab fer en kantite ansanm.)

I wish you success in your deliberations.
I now have the pleasure of declaring open, the sixth forum of the UCCOI. 
Thank you for your attention.

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