ISLAND NATIONS

Dubai 2018 | DIPLOMACY | B2B

Not only are trade and tourism between island nations and the UAE increasing, but the former have a thing or two to teach the latter as well.

Danny Faure
DANNY FAURE
President
Seychelles
Ameenah  Gurib-Fakim
AMEENAH GURIB-FAKIM
Former President
Mauritius

What is being done to increase trade and investment between you and the Gulf?

DANNY FAURE The UAE is ranked third in terms of the number of visitors coming to Seychelles after France and Germany. In terms of our country's GDP, tourism accounts for 26%. There has been a large amount of investment in tourism by the UAE as well. Four Seasons is an Emirati investment. Currently there are 28 flights per week from the UAE by Emirates and Etihad, and there is a great deal of investment by the UAE into Seychelles. We have also benefited from grants from the UAE government to help support our military hospitals, and schools. All of this has been a huge investment coming from this part of the world.

AMEENAH GURIB-FAKIM Mauritius has been diversifying its economy since the 1990s, and one of the areas we have identified is the financial sector. We positioned Mauritius squarely as a gateway for Africa into Asian investment. With this in mind and by virtue of our relationship with India, we have had a great deal of business flowing through Mauritius into India; over 40% of India's FDI flow goes through Mauritius. There is a great deal of potential in the African continent, and we aim to seamlessly move into the African market. We have signed several FTAs, and both the government and the private sector are investing massively in West, East, and Southern Africa. Our strategy is to look more into Africa, bearing in mind that Mauritius can also become the gateway for Asia to come into Africa. We are also working with the UAE; we recently signed a limited liability partnership for insurance, and the financial sector is moving right up. However, we want to increase our growth, which is currently at around 4%. If we want to get to 6%, we need more engines to fire up our economy.

What can other countries learn from you to help them open up to business and the world?

DF Africa and the Middle East need to partner. We need to learn from the Chamber of Commerce in Dubai how it has gone about building infrastructure, ports, and logistics centers for business. It is one thing to have the business; it is another to have the logistics to distribute, export, or import the business. Those logistics are key for economic development. On the other hand, Africa brings agriculture to the table. There is a huge potential in terms of agriculture and mining. If we can concentrate on the partnerships, both continents can benefit from one another. It is a win-win situation. In addition, digitalization has happened faster in Africa than in many countries. There is always something to learn from countries, no matter their level of development. The problem is that we need to tell the story and communicate what we are doing.

AGF We should not be prescriptive, but lead by example. For any economy, there is no Mauritian miracle. We provide a social security net and free healthcare for people. However, more importantly, we guarantee full education. This has been a key ingredient. Around 30% of Mauritius' GDP goes to these three categories. This is not an expense, but an investment because if we do not safeguard the interests of the people by educating them and providing them with healthcare, we will not have a performing population. We also have elections every five years and the population demands ever-greater accountability. Politicians know they will only be elected if they deliver. Governance issues come to the fore and corruption has to be tackled. The business community and investors have to feel safe. The tourists who come here have to feel safe and get value for their money.