The Second Seychelles-Korea Joint Committee Meeting Takes Place in Seoul: Building Closer ties
On Friday morning, 15th May 2015, Ambassador Maurice Loustau-Lalanne , Principal Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Transport, visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea to hold discussions under the second Joint Committee Meeting. This follows the first Joint Committee Meeting that was held in March 2012 in Victoria
Ambassador Loustau-Lalanne first paid a courtesy call on Mr. Hong Kyan-Kim, Deputy Minister for Political Affairs, before moving on to more detailed discussions with Mr. Kwon Hee-seog, Director General of the African and Middle Eastern Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea.
During discussions with the Deputy Minister, both sides warmly acknowledged the intensification of relations between Seychelles and Korea over recent years, particularly with regards to tourism and cultural exchanges.
In noting that 2016 will represent 40 years since the original establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries in 1976, Ambassador Loustau-Lalanne informed the Deputy Minister of Seychelles’ hopes to begin special chartered flights to Seoul to not only help commemorate this Anniversary but to help raise the visibility of Seychelles further, with Korean visitors to its islands hoped to grow from around 1050 in 2014 to 10,000 visitors by 2020.
Ambassador Loustau-Lalanne also highlighted Seychelles’ popular Eco-Friendly Marathon, as a potential mobilizer of Korean tourists, and also an initiative of Seychelles’ Honorary Consul General, Mr. Jeong, that has been taking place annually since 2008.
During the Joint Committee Meeting itself, Ambassador Loustau-Lalanne and Direct General Mr. Kwon continued discussions, reviewing the many promising developments that have taken place since the 1st Joint Commission, as well as possible new areas of collaboration.
With regards to maritime security, the Principal Secretary took the opportunity to express Seychelles’ deep appreciation for the key efforts of the Korean Government to help counter the piracy threat in Indian Ocean waters and has undoubtedly helped to heighten peace and security in the region.
Along the same lines, both sides acknowledged the slow but gradual increase in the number of Korean fishing vessels in Seychelles’ EEZ since 2012, and agreed that the decline of maritime piracy in the Indian Ocean would further encourage their return.
The Seychelles delegation also took the opportunity to hand over the 1st draft of a MoU on Fisheries Cooperation, highlighting its specific interest in engaging with Korea in the field of quality and sanitary control with regards to fishery products. The Korean side indicated that due consideration would be given to collaboration in this field.
The Korean side also noted the possibility of the Korean Government assisting Seychelles in realizing its vision of La Digue as a carbon-free island. Photovoltaic technology was highlighted as a potential focus, with the Korean side underscoring its expertise in the field.
Related to energy, Ambassador Loustau-Lalanne also took the opportunity to renew Seychelles’ invitation to Korean upstream oil companies to prospect for oil in Seychelles waters, indicating that it remains ready to send all available seismic data to any interested companies. Mr. Kwon informed that this message would be passed on Korea’s key oil exploration companies.
In the same context, the Seychelles side also briefed the Korean delegation on its quest to promote the Blue Economy, both nationally and internationally, and extended an invitation to high-level representatives to attend Seychelles’ 2nd Blue Economy to take place in early 2016 during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.
The Joint Committee Meeting also saw both sides renewing their commitment to further strengthening economic ties, acknowledging that the right legal frameworks need to be in place if trade and private sector investment is to be promoted fully.
Both sides are currently exploring the possibility of concluding a Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA). The Seychelles side also took the opportunity to hand over a draft cooperation MoU with Seychelles Investment Board (SIB).
In the field of political cooperation, it was agreed that both Seychelles and Korea should seek to strengthen relations between our respective National Assemblies through the possible establishment of a Parliamentary Friendship Association.
New areas of possible cooperation also identified were health, education and information, communication technology, areas, which the Korean side indicated they would be willing to consider collaborating with Seychelles in.
Mr. Kwon, who was accompanied by Mr. Kwon Hyuk-woon, Director of the Africa Division and and Mrs. Park Yoonrai, Deputy Director of the Africa Division, also indicated Joint Committee Meetings between Seychelles and Korea are held every two to three years or so in accordance with the Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement that was signed in Seoul in 2009.
Ambassador Maurice Loustau-Lalanne was Mr. Dong Chang Jeong, Seychelles’ Honorary Consul General in the Republic of Korea, and Ms. Melanie Scharpf, Second Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affaire and Transport.