Maldives on 7 December 2017 signed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China. The FTA was one of 12 agreements signed during Maldives President Abdulla Yameen’s first state visit to China. The agreement was passed by Maldivian Parliament on 30 November 2017.
Besides the FTA, the other agreements were signed in various fields such as economy, human resources, oceans, environment, health care, and finance.
Highlights of FTA between Maldives and China
• The Free Trade Agreement commits both nations to reduce tariffs on most imported goods to zero.
• The FTA will open up the Chinese consumer market which is regarded as the world’s largest consumer market to Maldivian fish products.
• Under the FTA, both the countries commit to open the service market such as finance, healthcare and tourism and agreed to cooperate practically in key areas.
• The agreement will endorse China's Maritime Silk Road (MSR) project that was shunned by India for its strategic implications in the Indian Ocean.
• The Maritime Silk Road project is part of China-backed multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
India breaks silence on China-Maldives FTA
India on 14 December 2017 gave a shielded response to the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed between China and the Maldives as it has still not seen the full document and could not comment on its contents.
India is concerned over the China's plan of Maritime Silk Road and does not endorse it due to China's increasing presence in the Indian Ocean. China has also set up a logistics base for its navy in Djibouti, located in the Indian Ocean region in the Horn of Africa.
Recently, China also got control of Sri Lanka's Hambantota port on a 99-year lease.
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