13th meeting of the Joint ACP-EU Ministerial Trade Committee: Seychelles takes firm stance on the European Union following "tax havens" listing
At the 13th meeting of the Joint ACP-EU Ministerial Trade Committee (Brussels - 26th June), Ambassador Barry Faure, Secretary of State in the Department of Foreign Affairs, joined the ACP Group to denounce the publication of an EU list of countries purporting to be non-cooperative tax jurisdictions. He referred to the press release issued on 25th June by the Seychelles Ministry of Finance, Trade and the Blue Economy to illuminate how strongly the country feels about this undesirable move by the European Union.
Speaking on the subject, Ambassador Barry Faure stated that the publication of the list was "arbitrary, non-inclusive, discriminatory and unsustainable as it was not coherent to the EU's development policy, especially as we move towards the international development conferences of Addis, New York and Paris."
In responding to the subject, the EU admitted that the list had "not been analysed" by the EU institutions and they had simply compiled lists provided by Member States; and that a process of "consultation" would only begin in the coming weeks with EU Member States and, subsequently, with the fiscal jurisdictions that had been listed.
Meanwhile, Seychelles joined the ACP Group in a formal declaration that called on the EU "to immediately withdraw the list and to refrain from such publications in the future without due process" and that the OECD was the only recognised authority on tax transparency.
The Joint Trade Ministers meeting also allowed for Seychelles to raise the issue of the exaggerated level of mercury in sword fish which the EU had recently imposed. Ambassador Faure characterised this measure as "arbitrary, not scientific, unsustainable and protectionist". He said that as it happened in 2003 when the local industry was destroyed by the level set for cadmium in sword fish imported into the European Union, the local long lining industry had already shown signs of disruption in its exports to the EU and was experiencing hardship. He said, "Seychelles therefore calls for dialogue with a view to reverse the situation."
Responding to the subject, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström agreed with Seychelles on the need for consultations.
Another important outcome of the meeting in Brussels held this week was the decision reached on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) by Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) Ministers. Following greater study of the situation of ESA countries not having submitted a Market Access Offer (MAO) to the EU, ESA ministers decided to allow those countries which were ready with MAOs to proceed with the negotiation of a deeper and broader EPA building on the interim EPA. This would also allow other countries to join whenever ready. The EC welcomed the decision and stated that they would by late September be ready to resume the negotiations which have stalled since 2007.
A copy of the ACP Declarations on "Fiscal Jurisdictions in ACP countries" and the "18th Meeting of the ACP Meeting of the ACP Ministerial Trade Committee on ACP-EU Economic Partnership Agreements" may be obtained from the Ministry of Finance, Trade and the Blue Economy and the Department of Foreign Affairs.