The Maldives Government today defended a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China and also expressed confidence over its relationship with Sri Lanka.
Addressing journalists in Colombo, the Maldives Attorney General Mohamed Anil, Fisheries Minister Mohamed Shainee and the Maldives Ambassador to Sri Lanka Mohamed Hussain Shareef said that the FTA with China, which has been approved by the Maldives Parliament, will help boost the economy of the country.
The Ambassador of Maldives to Sri Lanka, Mohamed Hussain Shareef dismissed concerns raised by the Maldives opposition over the FTA with China.
He asserted that if there is any concern with regards to the FTA between the Maldives and China then the concerns should be related to a threat from the FTA to the Maldives and its neighbours.
Shareef said that the deal with China is not at the expense of compromising the security in the Indian Ocean.
He also said that the relationship between the Maldives and Sri Lanka is strong and dismissed comments made by some ruling party members accusing Sri Lanka of protecting the Maldives opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed who is wanted in the Maldives.
The Ambassador said that the FTA with China has been in discussion since 2014 and so the deal was not reached in haste.
He said that the agreement with China will be hugely beneficial to the Maldives especially since it will result in the export of more fish from the Maldives.
Fisheries Minister Mohamed Shainee said that the deal with China is not the first FTA for the Maldives.
The Minister said that the Maldives will look to take maximum advantage out of the FTA with China.
He also noted that the Maldives already has trade agreements with Sri Lanka and India and will look to sign similar agreements with Europe and other countries.
However he noted that the trade agreements with Maldives’ neighbours was not functioning very well. (Colombo Gazette)
Picture by Lalith Perera