بســم اللّـه الرّحمـن الرّحيــم
Senior Government Officials of the People’s Republic of China, Leaders of the business community from China,
Ladies and Gentlemen;
It is a great pleasure for me to meet with leaders from the business community represented here, once again in this beautiful city of Beijing.
At the very outset, I would like to thank all of you for making time, from your very busy schedules, and the interest shown to meet me and my delegation.
The number of entrepreneurs, business leaders and investors gathered here today signify the growing commercial relationship between China and the Maldives, and the interest shown by the Chinese and Maldivian business community to seek mutually beneficial commercial undertakings.
In the last 4 years of my administration, both countries have worked very closely on a number of fronts. Trade, investment and people to people exchanges have shown remarkable growth, enabling the two nations to forge closer economic ties at unprecedented levels.
According to the latest trade statistics, total trade flows have been growing steadily annually.
In December 2013, total merchandise trade stood at USD 81.3 m.
On the investment side, Maldives has witnessed an increased interest from Chinese investors. As we speak, Chinese investments are already underway in the tourism industry.
Chinese engagement and support is vivid in major projects such as the construction of the China – Maldives Friendship Bridge, upgrading and expansion of Velana International Airport, real estate and housing development projects in Hulhumale’ Youth City to name a few.
In terms of tourist arrivals, China for the last 5 years, maintained its position as the most significant source market for arrivals. In 2016, we had over 324,000 Chinese arrivals, which is three times more than the second largest single source market.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Following President Xi’s historic state visit to Maldives in September 2014 and my visit to China in early 2014, both countries witnessed the dawn of a new era on Sino-Maldives relations that is built on mutual co-existence and Future Oriented All-Round Friendly Cooperative Ties.
It is with deep satisfaction and gratitude that I take note of China’s valuable partnership and contribution in our transformation journey.
I am confident that, under the able and visionary leadership of President Xi, the road ahead is a promising one for both countries, in bringing win-win growth and development outcomes.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This is the third time in a span of 4 years that I am meeting the Chinese business community and leaders. On every occasion, the reception I have received from the Chinese business community and industry leaders has been remarkable.
Following the initial dialogues I had with the business community in 2014, with a view to broadening commercial engagement with the Chinese business community, Maldives took part in the 4th South Asia Exhibition in Kunming as the Country of Honor and convened the second Maldives Investment Forum in the City of Beijing.
At an official level, bilateral talks were held under the framework of Joint Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation where both countries agreed to commence negotiations to enter into a Free Trade Agreement. We also became a founding member of Asian Infrastructure Bank and endorsed our commitment to President Xi’s “Belt and Road Initiative”.
The China-Maldives FTA signed during this visit, solidified the framework to deepen our bilateral trade and investment cooperation.
Both countries have made WTO-Plus commitments under goods and services trade.
We are a destination famous for luxury travel and visit of high net-worth individuals.
Along with the flow of over 1.2 million tourists annually, bring in an array of business opportunities.
Finance, aviation, transport, real-estate development and construction are lucrative sectors opened for investments and there are untapped potential in the country to develop new industries such as mariculture.
Special initiatives of the Government underway include, the development of Hulhumale’ Youth City with many opportunities for Chinese investors. The development of Special Economic Zones are planned to foster and diversify economic development in the outer atolls.
Investments by the Government in the Greater Male’ area, facilitated by the bridge connectivity, will further enhance business and investment prospects in the central region of the country.
With the China Maldives Free Trade Agreement that will be signed today, we would be inking these assurances to the Chinese and Maldivian business community. The panel discussion that will follow my remarks will give an opportunity for you to raise and clarify questions on the investment climate in the Maldives.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In conclusion, let me assure that there is no better time to invest in the Maldives than now.
Our doors will always remain open for FDI.
The Maldives will always work with China in the international arena on issues of mutual interest. Maldives has always looked to China as a global leader and an invaluable friend.
We will continue to work with China, to further strengthen and enhance the strong relationship between our two countries further.
Thank you all.