Economy and Trade
The Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 tropical islands in the Indian Ocean, about 1600 kilometre east of Kenya. The two main islands are Mahe and Praslin. About 90% of the Seychellois people live on Mahe Island. Most Seychellois are descendants of early French settlers and the African slaves brought to the Seychelles in the 19th century by the British, who freed them from slave ships on the east African coast. The country’s economy depends heavily on a fishing industry, focused on tuna, and upmarket tourism. Altogether, the service sector accounts for around 70% of GDP, with manufacturing accounting for a further 20%. The country is in the World Bank’s “upper middle” income bracket, and, consequently, it has received relatively little foreign aid. However, given the small size of the economy and its heavy dependence on tourism, the island remains vulnerable to external shocks.
Support for Inward Investment and Imports
The government has been consistently business-friendly, and has actively supported the development of an offshore financial-services sector. There is no discrimination against foreigners in terms of conducting business in the country, except that they need official approval to own land. The government established the Seychelles Investment Bureau (SIB) in 2004 to promote investment and support foreign investors. An import permit must be obtained from the Ministry of Finance for all imports. This is usually issued within 48 hours of application.
In order to encourage investment, the government has provided several incentives and tax exemptions.
International Business Company (IBC)
The International Business Company (IBC) is the most widely used vehicle for offshore operations in the Seychelles. It normally takes the form of a private company limited by shares, but can also be a Limited Life Company. It is regulated by the International Business Companies Act 1994 (the ‘Act’).
Main features of IBC are:
- Only one director and one shareholder are required
- Shareholders, directors and officers need not be resident in the Seychelles and there is no stipulation as to their nationality
- There is no minimum capital requirement. Shares may be registered and issued in any currency
- An IBC is not required to be audited
- No returns are needed of shareholders, directors and officers
- Shareholders and directors meetings need not be held in Seychelles and can be held by telephone
- The Certificate of Incorporation and Memorandum and Articles of Association are the only documents to be held on the public record if no filing done
The treaties currently in force are:
- South Africa