The Maldives government on Tuesday pledged its full cooperation and support for the new Silk Road project spearheaded by the Chinese government to expand the Asian giant’s economy.
In her opening speech at the first convention held in Bandos Island Resort by China to impart information to Maldivian government officials regarding the new Silk Road, Minister of Youth and Sports, Iruthisham Adam, declared that China’s “Belt and Road” project will open more doors for trade opportunities that will connect China with nations of Asia, Africa and Oceania via land, sea and air.
“This project is also very special, very significant for the Maldives,” said Iruthisham, who is also the acting head of Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Information regarding the new Silk Road will be given by officials of the Chinese Embassy in Maldives and the Maldives-China Trade and Cultural Organisation (MCTCO), the association founded to strengthen bilateral trade relations between the two countries. The officials will shed light on the projects planned for the Silk Road as well as China’s aid in the major development and expansion project of the Maldives’ main airport.
The Export-Import (Exim) Bank of China had granted a loan of USD 373 million (MVR 57 billion) to the Maldives last December for the development of Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA), which is a project totalling a heft USD 800 million (MVR 12.3 billion). The government commenced development of the new 3.7 kilometre airport runway, fuel farm and cargo complex with Exim’s loan early this year.
The Maldives officially entered China’s new Silk Road project in 2014, which mainly aims to undertake infrastructural projects in various countries. Accordingly, the Chinese government grants loans and other assistance for the development of bridges, airports and ports in nations strategically and geologically important to China.
The Maldives is also a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) of the Silk Road project which was founded to aid infrastructural development projects.
In addition to INIA, China has made great investments in the Maldives, most notably the ongoing development of a bridge connecting capital Male with airport island Hulhule. The Link Road connecting the island wards of southernmost Addu atoll had also been developed with China’s free aid. Moreover, various private firms of China continue to invest in the tourism and construction sectors of the archipelago.