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Your Excellency, Dr Patil, President of the Republic of India, Mr Pierre Laporte, Minister for Finance of the Republic of Seychelles, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.

This Business Forum has indeed been an historic and auspicious occasion and the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry is proud to have been involved in the organization and implementation of the Forum.

On behalf of the Chamber, its executives and all its members, I would like to join the rest of Seychelles to express our warm welcome to Your Excellency, Madam President and your delegation to our little paradise in the Indian Ocean. May your visit be very pleasant and also memorable. We are so proud to share this moment with you and to be part of the energy chain that links up and binds our two great countries together.

Seychelles is a small, but dynamic country. We exist in a complex world but we have, and continue to learn, how to navigate through uncertain times, unchartered waters and how to meet new and unexpected challenges.

India, on the other hand, is the world’s most populous country and it has made great strides in all areas: be it in commerce, industry, innovation, education and other spheres. We have so much to learn from you and so much to benefit from our mutual friendship and collaboration.

Madam President, our links stretch back to the early settlers of our country; this link has never been severed and in fact it gets stronger.

India has known 65 years of independence and this year Seychelles will celebrate will celebrate 36 years as an independent nation – which, incidentally, in the life of a country is not a long time. However, what we have in common, is that we have used our independence diligently and continue to strive for the dignity and well-being of our people.

We have both made great strides in this direction; what is important now, especially for Seychelles, is to continue to build and consolidate our economic base as a fortress for the social development of our peoples.

Seychelles has limited resources and because of this we have to rely on imports to buttress our industrial and commercial activities. It is important therefore that we find markets that are reliable, value-laden and also affordable. In view of our proximity to the Indian sub-continent it certainly makes sound economic sense to look towards it as a provider of our raw materials and also our source of inspiration. I believe that when we look towards our Indian collaborators, we will find good ideas and innovative business models to deliver them at scale. Ideas, as you know are everywhere, but they are increasingly coming from emerging markets.

Madam President, that India has assisted us and continues to do so, is that of technical cooperation. Indian expertise, through the ITEC programme has provided skills and know-how to many Seychellois. We are on a learning curve and those who have had the benefit of training can carry their new knowledge into different environments for a multiplier effect. Our collaboration will also open up new markets and new services and through working together we can reshape both commerce and industry and solve a great many problems on both sides of the ocean.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the Indian delegation who have left their busy schedules to come here to talk and listen to us and to share with us their visions and enterprising spirit. India is a country of innovators and I have no doubt that this great country will continue to act as a beacon of innovative spirit for the rest of the world. How fortunate we have been to be part of this.

I would also like to express my deepest gratitude to our Seychellois participants who have, once again, manifested their zeal to move forward and to grow for the benefit of their enterprise and the country. We all know that success is not a destination – rather, it is a journey.

Madam President, once again I thank you and your delegation for so graciously honouring our country and our people.

Thank you.

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