The WTO Accession of Seychelles: Lessons from a Small Island Economy

Seychelles became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2015 after an accession process that took almost twenty years to complete. Since the relaunch of its accession process in 2009, Seychelles has undertaken significant trade reforms as part of a broader economic modernization agenda. These trade reforms were anchored on the reform commitments taken by the government as part of accession to the WTO. Although it is still too early to evaluate the full impact and benefits of WTO membership, this chapter offers insights into the negotiation process and weighs the costs and benefits of WTO accession from the perspective of a small country. The main lessons for small economies aspiring to become WTO members are that: (i) WTO accession is a long and arduous process that makes heavy demands on a small country’s resources; (ii) small and developing countries should not expect any special treatment from larger and older members of the WTO; (iii) accession provides a good platform for modernization of a country’s trade regime; and (iv) accession can have a positive impact on a country’s ratings among rating agencies, international financial institutions and private investors.

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