World leaders met on 25th to 27th April 2019 at the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, China to discuss further implementation of the initiative. Present at the Forum were 37 heads of states, their ministers and senior government officers from Eurasia, Africa and Latin America, who have signed the Memorandum of Understanding of the One Belt and One road Initiative. Seychelles was represented by a delegation led by Mr. Didier Dogley, Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine which include Mr. Alan Renaud, Principal Secretary of Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, Deputy CEO of the Seychelles Ports Authority, Mr. Egbert Moustache and Ambassador Vivianne Fock-Tave and her team from the Seychelles embassy in Beijing.
On Thursday the delegation attended the People to People connectivity discussions and presentations and later in the afternoon they met with the Chinese Minister for Tourism and Culture. The discussions between the two ministers were courteous and focussed on the development of tourism in both countries and in particular the support that the Chinese government could provide to increase the number of Chinese visitors to Seychelles. Minister Dogley took the opportunity to thank the Chinese government for the continued support it has provided to Seychelles and stressed the importance of maintaining the cultural exchanges between the two countries especially during the annual Chinese Week festivities in Seychelles, which takes place during the Chinese Spring Festival. Minister Luo Shugang pledged his government’s continued support to Seychelles both in the field of tourism and culture.
The official opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum on International Cooperation was held on Friday morning. The Forum was opened by the President of the People’s Republic of China, his Excellency Xi Jinping. During his remark, the President made an assessment of progress made so far and the challenges the initiative faces. He also announced the various measures to address issues like corruption, sustainability of infrastructure projects, responsible financing and pledged to further strengthen global trade. By the end of the Belt and Road Forum US$ 64 billion worth of new projects had been agreed upon.
The Seychelles delegation also met with the representatives of the China Tengkun Air Service Company and other tour operators to discuss the possibility of starting twice weekly scheduled flights by a Chinese airline to Seychelles later this year. With the news that Air Mauritius may be pulling out of China there will be a clear void of access by Chinese visitors to the sub-region. The discussions focussed on the aviation technicalities such as route and costs of operation and support that Seychelles can provide to the operators. In view that direct access to China will not only benefit tourism but also trade between the two countries both parties agreed to work further on the proposals they explored during their discussions.
During the visit Minister Dogley and his delegation visited sites of cultural and touristic importance and together with other Ministers, he was hosted to dinner by Minister Luo Shugang. He also attended a banquet and cultural evening organised by his Excellency Xi Jinping in honour of the head of states and head of delegations in the Great Hall of the People.