National Stakeholders' (Validation) Workshop on the Study on "Impact of Changes to the Rules of Origin and Erosion of Tariff Preferences on Seychelles' Exports of Fish and Fish Products to the EU"
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MFAIC) in collaboration with the ACP-EU Project Management Unit (PMU) organised a one-day national stakeholders' workshop to validate the draft report of a study on the "Impact of a Change in the Rules of Origin and Preferential Margin on Seychelles' Exports of Fish and Fish Products to the EU," which was conducted by IMANI Development Ltd and financially supported by the PMU.
Over thirty stakeholders attended this workshop which included representatives of relevant Government organisations, the civil society, the private sector and the PMU. The Workshop was chaired by His Excellency, Mr. Barry Faure, Ambassador of Seychelles in Brussels and also the Lead Ambassadorial Spokesperson for the Fisheries Cluster in the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) EPA configuration. Welcoming remarks were given by Ms. Vivianne Fock-Tave, Chairperson of the National EPA Forum.
The opening address was delivered by Mr. Finley Racombo, Chairman of Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA), reiterating the importance of the tuna sector and the need to optimise benefits from the sector through maintaining the best possible terms of trade with the main trading partner, the EU. He emphasised the need for targeted advice, in particular, regarding the contents, methodology and negotiation strategy for the negotiation of an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) within the ESA group particularly concerning the Rules of Origin.
Mr Bent Larsen, Lead Consultant and Mr Richard Hess, Managing Director of IMANI Development presented the findings and recommendations of the study report through a series of three presentations.
The first presentation was on the economic and socio-economic context of the study, with special focus on the local tuna sector.
It was shown that tuna canning is the single most important fisheries sub-sector in relation to the preferential treatment in the EU market, and hence the application of Rules of Origin (RoO).
This sub-sector generates substantial contributions to Government revenue, accruing from compensations and targeted funding paid under the Fisheries Partnership Agreement (FPA) with the EU.
Market conditions in the EU may favour further development of this sector; therefore, the challenge is to increase competitiveness under the conditions of the reformed, liberalised, trade regime of the Seychelles, and also to diversify in terms of accessing new markets and products.
The second presentation focused on the background of the study, covering the Cotonou Partnership Agreement (CPA), the EPAs and Rules of Origin.
The technicalities involved, such as the WTO waiver requirement and the implication for EPA negotiations were also covered.
Furthermore, a detailed explanation of the history and purpose of RoO was given, noting that their main function is to avoid trade deflection. RoO generally confer origin following one of three criteria, namely wholly obtained, substantial transformation and value addition.