Acceleration of trade negotiations with the EU and aquaculture development in the region emphasised at COMESA Regional Ministerial Meeting in Addis Ababa.
Aquaculture development and the negotiations of the Economic Partnership Agreement were two themes, which dominated Seychelles’ participation at the 34th Meeting of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa
(COMESA) Council of Ministers and the 21st Meeting of the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) Council of Ministers which ended on 27th March in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Speaking on fisheries development, Secretary of State Ambassador Barry Faure reiterated Seychelles President Michel’s leading calls for a more inclusive global development agenda emphasizing the economic potential of the seas while protecting maritime resources.
“Investment in the Blue Economy has both the potential for economic growth and food security for the region and Seychelles commends the COMESA Secretariat for their initiatives to support Member States’ development of fisheries and aquaculture. In view of Seychelles’ strategic plan for aquaculture development and the potential that aquaculture has to transform the region, Seychelles is to place close attention to COMESA’s programme in this sector and is ready to contribute in the formulation of COMESA guidelines for aquaculture, fish and fishery products,” said Secretary of State Faure.
On the negotiations of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) of the ESA States with the European Union, the Seychelles delegation expressed the need for the acceleration of efforts to conclude a comprehensive and inclusive EPA. Seychelles had to opt for the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (IEPA) in December 2007 in order to avoid suffering from trade disruption, especially in the fisheries sector whilst pursuing with the negotiations to conclude a full and comprehensive EPA. ESA States, with the assistance of COMESA, have so far negotiated a progressive draft EPA with the European Commission (EC), but not enough ESA Member States have submitted national market access offers to the EC, other than Madagascar, Mauritius, Zimbabwe and Seychelles, all signatories of the IEPA. Council expects that by June 2015, a critical mass of countries would have submitted their goods offers in order to enable the successful conclusion of the full and comprehensive EPA with the European Union.
The two Council meetings precede the COMESA AUTHORITY meeting, due to take place on 30th and 31st March, and have also been attended by Pretoria-based High Commissioner Claude Morel, accredited to COMESA, Addis-based Ambassador Joseph Nourrice, and experts from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Transport and Finance, Trade & the Blue Economy.