Seychelles' private sector can now report the obstacles and challenges it encounters through a digital platform called the Trade Obstacles Alert Mechanism (TOAM) platform launched on Tuesday.
TOAM is an international initiative of the International Trade Centre (ITC), developed in collaboration with public and private institutions at the national and regional levels.
Headquartered in Geneva, the ITC is a multilateral agency which has a joint mandate with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the United Nations (UN) through the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
The TOAM platform will allow for easy and speedy interaction between policymakers and the industry, with the view of resolving issues, which cause damage to the facilitation of trade.
A senior trade officer at the Trade Department, Demelza Valentin, shared with the press that the system will work like a one-stop shop for economic operators.
"It is the Trade Department that is the focal point. The team will receive the challenges which will be disseminated to different agencies of government that will in turn provide solutions to these obstacles. These will then be sent back to the department, which will be responsible to make the solutions available to the operators," she explained.
A response is expected by up to two weeks after the challenge has been submitted.
At the moment, businesses were turning to the Seychelles Investment Board (SIB). The TOAM platform is expected to speed up the exchange of information between economic operators and relevant agencies.
Valentin said that once an operator reports an obstacle, the challenge will be made public although the contributor will remain anonymous. This will allow other operators facing the same challenge to see the solution being provided.
TOAM Seychelles includes an online platform and a mobile application.
Seychelles' finance, economic planning and trade minister, Naadir Hassan, said that the creation of the platform "is in line with the government's ambition to enhance trade facilitation, promote inter-agency dialogue, and improve public-private sector discussions through further digitalisation."
He added that "the adoption of this technology, especially, post-COVID-19 pandemic, is the way forward, as it serves as a platform for the business community to provide feedback on perceived trade obstacles and the clearance of goods at the borders."
The International Trade Centre (ITC) assisted the government in the setting up of Seychelles' TOAM.
During the launch, an ITC market analyst, Vianney Lesaffre, said that over the years, the organisation has been working closely with the Seychelles authorities on a number of trade-related technical assistance issues.
"The main object of the project is to identify and eliminate trade barriers and hence improve the business environment in the country," he shared.
Following the launch, Seychelles has become the 19th country to utilise this platform.