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India Pursuing Free Trade Agreement With Maldives, Minister Confirms

Mohamed Saeed stated that India seeks to establish a Free Trade Agreement with the Maldives, alongside the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA).

Edited By : simran rajpal | Updated: May 26, 2024 10:06 IST
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Maldives: Maldivian Minister Mohamed Saeed and modi

Maldivian Minister Mohamed Saeed announced that India has begun efforts to establish a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the Maldives. Speaking at a press conference in Male, Saeed, who serves as the Minister of Economic Development and Trade, stated that deliberations on the FTA are currently in progress.

News agency PTI reported that Mohamed Saeed said India wants to establish a Free Trade Agreement with the Maldives, in addition to the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA).

He said that Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu has extended an invitation to all countries for a free trade deal with the island nation. He added that the government aims to enter into agreements with as many countries as possible to facilitate easier trade activities.

Amid strained diplomatic ties since last November, India is reportedly seeking a free trade deal with the Maldives. The tension arose after several Maldivian ministers mocked Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Lakshadweep. This online dispute occurred alongside President Muizzu’s pro-China stance and his orders for Indian troops to leave the Maldives.

Earlier this month, civilians replaced the last of the Indian military personnel. Meanwhile, the 1981 India-Maldives trade agreement continues to facilitate the export of essential commodities. According to news agency PTI, records from the Indian High Commission show that bilateral trade between India and the Maldives surpassed $300 million for the first time in 2021 and exceeded $500 million the following year.

Despite the diplomatic row, India extended vital budgetary support to the Maldives in May. Responding to a special request from the Maldivian government, India announced the rollover of a $50 million Treasury Bill for another year as a goodwill gesture.

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First published on: May 26, 2024 10:06 AM IST

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