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Seychelles; World Trade Organization: WTO Membership Accepted

(May 5, 2015) On April 26, 2015, Seychelles was officially accepted as the 161st member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). (WTO Welcomes Seychelles as Its 161st Member, WTO website (Apr. 27, 2015).) The process, which took 20 years, is one of the longest accession procedures in WTO history; the average time for completion of accession has been five years. (Hajira Amla, 20 Years in the Making: WTO Officially Accepts Seychelles as 161st Member, SEYCHELLES NEWS AGENCY (Apr. 28, 2015); for the accession commitments package, see Accession Commitments Database (ACDB), WTO website (last visited May 4, 2015) [select “Report by Member” tab, choose “Seychelles, Republic of” in drop-down window, and click on “View Report”].)

Although the country had first requested to become a WTO member on May 31, 1995, it “made very little progress up until it re-initiated the process in 2008,” when the government took significant steps to identify the legislative changes needed. (Amla, supra.) Seychelles has completed bilateral trade negotiations with nine WTO members: Canada, the European Union, Japan, Mauritius, Oman, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, and the United States. (Id.)

The Seychelles archipelago of 155 islands has only about 92,000 inhabitants and is one of the smallest WTO member states. All of the islands are listed in the Constitution of the Republic of Seychelles. (U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, AFRICA: Seychelles, WORLD FACTBOOK (last updated May 1, 2015); Constitution of the Republic of Seychelles (June 21, 1993, as last amended by Act 7 of 2011), Cap. 42, Schedule I, Part I, SEYLII.) The country’s economy is based chiefly on tourism and fish exports; the main export is reportedly canned tuna chiefly for the European market. Seychelles imports a large proportion of its food, “with up to 90 percent of goods consumed coming by air and sea cargo.” (Amla, supra.)