The original Dhivehi article was published on Avas.mv website on 30th March 2017.
The following is a loose translation:
The decision to make a Maldives – China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was taken in December 2014, in China. And to see if this was feasible, experts from both sides met on 4 February 2015. And in 5 rounds of meetings held in both countries a conclusion was reached on 18 September 2017. What remained was the official signing of the agreement. As soon as the green light appeared from the cabinet for the signing, the parliament gave approval within half an hour. This will become the beginning of a new chapter to Maldives’ trade sector.
1. No duty to Maldives fish
When FTA discussions took place, both countries tugged the rope hard. At times discussions got heated too. The Maldives government concentrated on ensuring to offer a better assistance than what is available now to Maldivian fishermen. Likewise, included a clause to remove import duty on Maldives fish products exported to China.
2. Increase productivity
Maldives side proposed to include a special clause in FTA to augment Maldivian manufacturing. They include, not to impose tax if Maldivian facilities were used up to 30-40% during manufacturing to produce fish and seafood items. For instance, if shrimps are imported from India or Sri Lanka, packed in the Maldives and sold in China, they would get an import tax exemption.
3. Easing up on import of goods
Maldives relies heavily on imported products. According to statistics, China ranks 3rd among the countries Maldives imports products from. Till this year October itself, MVR 344.4 million items were imported. It is believed that due to FTA there will be a relief for the Maldivian businessmen.
4. Increase tourists
Although it is from China that most tourists visit the Maldives, it has been 4 years since there has been a decline. Up to the current period of this year, there have been 265,417 Chinese tourists to the Maldives. However, this figure in comparison to last year’s 289,123, is a decrease of 8.2%. Still, it is the Chinese tourists that top the travel market. As per statistics, 122 million Chinese tourists spent their holidays abroad and they spent USD 106 million for travel. Therefore it is believed that after FTA, it will bring a significant improvement to the current drop.
Moreover, the government believes that the small businesses and banking sector will also benefit from the FTA.