Ambassador of China to Maldives Zhang Lizhong, on Monday, responded to the recent allegations raised by Minister of Economic Development Fayyaz Ismail regarding the free trade agreement signed with China during the presidency of Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.
Speaking during a programme aired on the national radio last Saturday, Fayyaz expressed his opinion that Maldives should not implement the FTA, claiming that it heavily favoured China and would not bring any substantial economic gains for Maldives.
He asserted that the current provisions of the deal would negatively affect the Maldivian economy.
In a tweet refuting Fayyaz's statement, Zhang declared that the FTA is of "mutual benefit and high-quality".
"It conforms to international practice and will lift the economic and trade ties to new level", he said.
Zhang also appeared to respond to Fayyaz's comments that the FTA with China would lead to the deterioration of Maldives' bilateral trade relations with other countries.
Noting that China has signed 18 free trade deals with 22 partners, he stated that none of the agreements disrupted any country's trade relations with others.
President Yameen signed the Maldives-China Free Trade Agreement on December 18, 2014 during a state trip to China. The parliament approved the agreement on November 29, 2017.
At the time, President Yameen's administration asserted that signing the agreement with China 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.
However, the-then opposition had heavily criticised the agreement as a pact that would ultimately “sell off” Maldives to China as well as raising concerns that such a major agreement was approved in a rushed manner by the Committee on National Security.