The Maldives has successfully concluded free trade negotiations with China, announced the Ministry of Economic Affairs on Monday.
The final round of talks took place September 15-16 in Chinese capital Beijing. The Maldives had held previously held five discussion sessions on entering a free trade pact with China, headed by Economic Minister Mohamed Saeed.
In a press release, the economic ministry declared that free trade with China, which is currently growing to be the Maldives’ biggest ally, will greatly ease bilateral import-export between the Maldives and China. The ministry highlighted that the agreement will facilitate numerous opportunities for fishermen, exporters and tourism industry veterans in the largest market of the world.
The ministry also announced that the Maldives is prepared to hold the final round of talks regarding a free trade pact with Hong Kong. The Maldives had also extended invitations to the United States, United Kingdom, European Union and Japan to enter into free trade with the archipelago last year.
In the statement, the government highlighted that its main priorities in entering into free trade with economic giants are to open doors for small and medium enterprises to enter international markets, enhance the Maldives’ tourism industry, and provide more opportunities for local businesspeople in the financial and banking sectors.
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.