Haveeru | 9 September
China-Maldives sign MOU for free trade pact
The government discussed financial aid for major projects, planned for the future, with China at the resort island of Kurumba on Tuesday.
In his statement following the second meeting of the Maldives-China Joint Commission for Trade and Economic Cooperation, Economic Minister Mohamed Saeed said the two countries discussed collaborations to execute progressive projects in the Maldives. The discussions included projects such as the Malé-Hulhulé bridge, financial aid for development of Ibrahim Nasir International Airport and finance for the ongoing housing projects.
According to his statements, there has been much progress following the meeting between the two nations’ leaders. He added that they have participated in the Silk Road as per the Joint Commission’s agreement.
“We are progressing economically due to our relations with China. The design of the bridge unveiled on [Monday night] is testament to that. We hope it will soon be turned to a reality,” said Saeed.
The meeting had ended with the signing of the MOU between both countries to begin discussions of the Maldives-China free trade agreement. The official discussions will commence next month in Malé.
Economic minister Mohamed Saeed represented the Maldives’ in signing the MOU, while China was represented by Vice Minister of Commerce Gao Yan.
Minister Saeed said that the governments of both nations had accepted the joint feasibility studies prepared collaboratively by both countries. He added later in his statement that this is the first time Maldives is signing a free trade pact with another country, which will hopefully continue and conclude soon.
The Maldives-China joint commission was formed under an agreement signed during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Maldives last year.
According to the economic ministry, China will exempt duty for fish products exported by the Maldives under the new agreement and remove other obstacles faced in exportation.
Maldives has only entered into a free trade agreement with the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) — the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) — but it is a regional agreement.
The government had previously announced that the free trade agreement between China will be signed around mid-2016.