France and Seychelles
Bilateral relations between France and Seychelles are excellent. When pirate attacks started to hit Seychelles in early 2009, France’s rapid, effective response, involving the assistance of the French Army Forces in the Southern Indian Ocean Zone (FAZSOI) to the Seychelles coast guard and the provision of a technical adviser, was highly appreciated. French navy vessels have made no less than 45 stopovers in Victoria in the last five years, demonstrating the excellent quality of our bilateral military relations. These relations are fuelled by the proximity of La Réunion and our strong shared commitment to the Indian Ocean Commission.
President James Alix Michel made two official visits to La Réunion (December 2006 and July 2013), and another to Paris in December 2014.
France is a major economic actor in Seychelles as the country’s leading customer and third-largest supplier in 2017.
In 2017, trade between France and Seychelles totalled €182 million, compared to €167 million in 2016. French exports to Seychelles in 2017 totalled €71 million (€61 million in 2016). French imports from Seychelles amounted to €111 million in 2017 (€106 million in 2016), accounting for a French trade deficit of €40 million. French imports from Seychelles are made up almost entirely of tinned tuna (€95 million).
French interests do, however, remain limited given the size of the market. France remains Seychelles’ second-largest foreign investor behind the United States (major hotel chains in particular). The French presence is concentrated in a few sectors: fishing fleets (SAPMER), catering for airlines (SERVAIR), international removals (AGS), and water treatment (Eiffage/Hydrotech contract worth €4.4 million). A few French operators are present on an individual basis in tourism (hospitality, catering, boat rental, diving clubs, etc.) and in other service activities (consultancy, real estate, multimedia, etc.).
In 2017, trade between La Réunion and Seychelles stood at €1.2 million, with €533,000 of exports to Seychelles and €753,000 of imports from Seychelles to La Réunion.
In May 2016, an agreement was signed between the Seychelles Ministry of Tourism and Culture and the French Musée National de la Marine (National Naval Museum) which will provide the Seychelles government with its expertise (e.g. training) for the creation of a Seychelles naval museum. For its part, Seychelles will support the national museums of the French Navy by providing its expertise in the repair and renovation of marine models. Fruitful cooperation is also in sight with the Paris Natural History Museum.
The new University of Seychelles (founded in 2011) has partnerships with the Universities of Paris, Bordeaux and La Réunion.
A framework cooperation agreement was signed between Seychelles and La Réunion (since renewed tacitly). Its implementation is organized through action plans, the last of which was signed in July 2013. It covers areas as varied as education, the environment, tourism, health, the press, television and energy, with an annual budget of between €300,000 and €400,000. Some 20 cooperation officers and experts (supported contracts (CUI), International Solidarity Volunteers (VSI), International Corporate Volunteers (VIE), and from the Region and the Department) are seconded to various Seychelles ministries and administrations, as well as to the Alliance Française branch in Victoria and to primary and secondary schools for the teaching of French.
The framework agreement is currently being updated.
The French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD) has posted two resident scientists (marine biologists) to the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) for several years.
Updated: April 2018