The Seychelles Government has signed a landmark visa waiver agreement with the People’s Republic of China, making Seychelles the first African country to have visa free travel for all passports with China.
The Seychelles Foreign Minister, Mr. Jean-Paul Adam, signed the agreement with the Chinese Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Xie Hangsheng, in a ceremony held at Maison Quéau de Quinssy earlier today.
“Today’s signing is a momentous occasion in the excellent relations between Seychelles and China,” said Minister Adam.
“Every Seychellois can see the results of our partnership all around them in the infrastructure generously supported by China, but our partnership is about more than bricks and buildings but also about people to people links. This is why we are very proud to be the first African country to sign this agreement.”
Minister Adam said that the visa waiver established today was a culmination of many discussions held during the high level exchanges between President James Michel and the Chinese leadership.
The Minister added that it showed a willingness to strengthen bilateral relations and explore new areas of cooperation made easier by reducing the barriers to travel, such as tourism and business. In this line the Minister also announced plans to open a Consulate General in Shanghai to facilitate exchanges of goods and services.
Vice Minister Xie said that his mission to Seychelles is aimed to strengthening relations between the two states and that he believed that such an waiver agreement was merited for, what he described as, a friendly tourist destination.
Both Ministers remarked on the high increase of travelers from China to Seychelles, with a recorded 110% increase in 2012, and said that they hoped new travel links like the recent Air Seychelles flights to Hong Kong would further strengthen people to people exchanges. Vice Minister Xie added that he was confident that many of the visitors to Seychelles would recognize the business potential and become investors.
During their bilateral discussions, the Ministers also discussed other areas of ongoing cooperation, particularly in the areas of piracy surveillance and infrastructure development, where Minister Adam expressed the thanks of the Government of Seychelles for the two surveillance aircrafts previously provided by the Chinese Government and for their support of the new Palais de Justice, Anse Royale hospital, housing and school projects.
Vice Minister Xie is currently in Seychelles on a two day working visit during which he called on both President James Michel and Vice President Danny Faure.
The visa waiver signed allows for Seychellois passport holders of all types to enter China for a period of up to 30 days visa free but will only come into force once respective internal procedures are completed.