Speech by President Danny Faure at the India Seychelles Business Forum, New Delhi, India - 25th June 2018
26 June 2018 | Foreign Affairs
Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce of India
Members of India’s delegation
Members of the Seychelles delegation
Members of the Press
A very good afternoon to you.
I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to my hosts for organizing this event, and to all of you, for attending this afternoon.
Seychelles has a population of less than 100, 000 people. I believe that we present opportunities that cannot be ignored.
Your presence here today demonstrates that you also share that belief.
With less than 460 square kilometres of land, Seychelles noes not have the option to build large-scale manufacturing plants. We also do not have an abundant supply of cheap labour to operate those plants.
However, our potential is not in mass producing goods to supply the World. It lies in specialist areas, in the untapped resources of our seas and outer islands.
- Firstly, let me take our seas
We have an exclusive economic of 1.4 million square kilometres. This is more than twice the land area of Madagascar or roughly the size of South Africa. Today, the main resource from the ocean is tuna.
Canned tuna is currently the only good that we produce and export to the world.
However, there is very likely more than just tune that exist in those waters and is worth exporting, not only to India but to the rest of the world. There is possibly a niche that would represent industrial scale export from Seychelles.
- Secondly, our outer islands
With 115 isllands in our archipelago, a large number of outer islands lie idle. Close to a hundred of them are spread out over the 1.4 million square kilometres. There are opportunities for tourism, for fisheries, for agriculture, and more.
Our outer islands are promised lands. New opportunities and yet unexplored.
There are also existing areas that can be built upon. For example. Four Seasons just opened an exclusive resort on Desroches, one of our outer islands. 230 kilometres south-west and a 40 minute flight from the main island Mahe. The cheapest rooms are just short of one thousand euros a night, excluding flight transfer. Yet occupancy and tax receipts are high and the business is running well. Four Seasons Desroches evidences the market for luxury tourism and opportunities that lie in the sector.
In our most active sector, tourism, India is still a growing market.
At the moment, this space is largely occupied by European countries and the UAE. Yet, Mumbai is only a 4 hour flight away.
The Seychelles started extensive economic reforms in 2008 aimed at providing macro-economic stability and debt sustainability. Since these reforms started, we have been growing non-stop, and we are now in our tenth year. We are the only country in Africa today which is classified as a High Income by the World Bank, with a per capita GDP of USD 15,891. Last year we grew by an estimated 5.2%.
On the Government side, we have been running primary surpluses on our Budgets since the start of the reforms. This fiscal discipline and sound management has allowed us to reduce our debts.
The country’s public debt currently stands at about 60% of GDP and we remain on track to reduce this to 50% by 2021.
Our discipline and commitment to reforms have inspired confidence in the local currency, the Seychelles rupee. It has depreciated by only 2% in the last twelve months. We run a floating exchange rate and have no capital controls.
From a macro perspective, the fundamentals are good. At a more specific level, our role as Government is one of facilitator. The Seychelles Investment Bureau was here a few weeks ago, our CEO is here today, and they are the gateway or the liaison between yourselves as investors and the arms of Government.
Regardless of the sector that you are interested in, they will be able to guide you on whether you need permits and the frameworks in place for that sector.
Whether you want to invest in medical tourism, IT back office, renewable energy, waste management, capital investment or use our physical beauty for the setting in your famous Bollywood industry – whichever area you wish to use, get in touch with the Seychelles Investment Bureau and we will get to make your investment project a functioning enterprise.
India and Seychelles share an important historical link. The first settlers arrived in Seychelles almost 250 years ago and shortly thereafter, businessmen and traders came in, many of them from India. India and its rich culture, form an important part of our national fabric.
Today the retail sector is largely owned and operated by Indian nationals. Some of our largest construction firms are owned by Indians or by Seychellois of Indian origin.
The number of Indian expatriates living and working in Seychelles has also tripled over the last five years, and last year they represented more than 40% of our total number of expatriates.
India and Seychelles have always been friends, and I hope will continue to be business partners. We value your investment.
Our country welcomes you. We welcome your ideas, your services, your products. Whether as a destination for your sales, as a base for you to build, create and distribute, or even as a source for you to buy from us and distribute using your networks in India, we welcome you.
By using the Seychelles Investment Bureau as your focal point, our Government can guide you and assist you on your way to reaslising your vision.
Thank you all once again for coming today. I hope to see some of you in the future as employers in the Seychelles and tax payers.
I would like to end by saying, Seychelles is open for business.