Maldives-China Free Trade Talks Concluded

The Maldives has successfully concluded the free trade negotiations with China.

Officials from the Economic ministry disclosed that free trade with China, which is currently growing to be the Maldives’ biggest ally, will greatly increase the efficiency of bilateral import-export between the Maldives and China. The Ministry officials mentioned the benefits this will bring the fishermen, exporters, and tourism industry stakeholders in marketing and selling their products in the largest market in the world.

The finishing phases of the talks took place on September 15-16 in the capital city of China, Beijing. The Maldives had held previously held five discussion sessions on entering a free trade agreement with China, led by Economic Minister Mohamed Saeed.

Economic Ministry also said that the Maldivian Government is inclined to hold the final round of talks regarding a free trade pact with Hong Kong. The Maldives had also invited the United States, United Kingdom, European Union and Japan to enter a “free trade” with the archipelago prior to this agreement.

In the press release by the Economic Ministry, the Government said that the main intent on entering Free Trade pacts with larger economies is to create opportunities for the small and medium businesses to enter the international markets without obstacles. Enhancing the Maldives’ tourism industry, and provide more opportunities for local businesspeople in the financial and banking sectors are also among aims of these agreements.

The free trade deal with China, and then Hong Kong, will mark the first time for the Maldives to enter into such an agreement with an individual country. Previously the island nation entered into a regional agreement with South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA), which includes all the SAARC countries.

Throughout the past years under Yameen’s administration, China and Maldives have strengthened the bonds between the two countries like never before. China, in turn, has initiated Mega-projects under loan aid and free aid to the Government which sums up to about a billion dollars (USD) of investment.