| GDP: $626 million.
Exports include: Canned tuna, cinnamon bark, frozen fish, copra and petroleum.
Imports: Machinery and equipment, foodstuff, chemicals and petroleum.
Main trade partners: United Kingdom, Spain, France, Singapore, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Germany and Italy.
Tourism is the largest industry in the Seychelles’ economy and now accounts over 20% of GDP, and draws 70% of foreign exchange earnings. The service sector as a whole covers three-quarters of the economy in the Seychelles.
Despite a shortage of fertile land, the agricultural sector produces copra for exportation, a variety of cash crops including tea and vanilla, and staple foods including cassava and sweet potatoes for domestic consumption.
Fishing became increasingly important during the 1980s onwards, both through the expansion of the domestic operations and the sale of licences to foreign fleets.
Industry comprises a mining sector which extracts guano (rich in minerals) and natural gas. Light and small-scale industries include food and drinks (notably a tuna-canning operation), boat-building, metals, tobacco, wood products and chemicals. Located there is also a thriving re-export business based on a recently established export-processing zone. Extensive searches for offshore oil and gas reserves have been unsuccessful.
The economy’s heavy dependence on tourism makes it especially vulnerable to external factors (such as the September 11th attacks on the USA), over which it has no control. During 1995, in an attempt to diversify the service economy away from tourism, the Government started to promote the Seychelles as an ‘offshore’ financial services centre. This has been moderately successful, especially given that this is now a highly competitive and – mainly because of concerns about fraud and money-laundering – controversial field.
After some years of recession, the economy is growing. The main financial problem is the size of the Seychelles' external debt. The country must import many essential products – an expensive process given the islands’ location – and this consumes the bulk of the foreign exchange.
The Seychelles is a member of the African Development Bank and the Indian Ocean Commission.
The Seychelles’ principal trading partners are the United Kingdom, Yemen, Germany and the countries of the South African Customs Union (South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland).
A smart appearance is advised, but businessmen do not wear suits and ties. Executives speak English and/or French.
Office hours: Monday-Friday 0800-1600hrs.
Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry
PO Box 599
Telephone number: 323 812.