Minister of Fisheries, Marine Resources and Agriculture Zaha Waheed, on Monday, revealed that efforts were underway to establish fisheries exports to both China and Russia.
In response to a question posed by parliamentary representative for Kaafu Atoll's Kaashidhoo constituency MP Abdulla Jabir during Monday's parliamentary session, Minister Zaha noted that breaking into the Chinese market requires an extensive amount of permits.
The lawmaker also questioned why she remained unmoved after hindering advantages that were guaranteed to the fisheries industry by a Free-Trade-Agreement (FTA) with China.
In response, Minister Zaha deferred to both Ministry of Economic Development and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs over their mandated role to oversee FTA proceedings.
She further referred to Minister of Finance Ibrahim Ameer, adding that the FTA was yet to be implemented.
Highlighting the efforts undertaken by the ministry to strengthen the sector and increase gains, she said that discussions with the European Union were underway to reduce tariffs on exports.
Responding to a previous query raised by MP Jabir, Speaker of Parliament Mohamed Nasheed said the agreement did not "exist" anymore.
The contentious Maldives-China Free Trade Agreement was signed during the former administration of Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom on December 18, 2014, during a state trip to China. The parliament approved the agreement on November 29, 2017.
However, Nasheed noted that the FTA never materialized as both countries failed to formulate special regulations within 30 days since the FTA was signed.
"Although the FTA was signed, it will only operationalize after Parliament formulates relevant policies", said Nasheed.
At the time, the Yameen administration asserted that the agreement was a notable progression for the fisheries and tourism sector, adding that the FTA allowed Maldives to trade fish products in the world's largest consumer market without any imposed duty.