The Maldives is planning to pull out of free trade agreement with China. The move comes after the island nation strengthens its ties with India and the West after Ibrahim Mohamed Solih became president in the elections held in September.
According to Mohamed Nasheed, a former president and currently the advisor to Solih, said that the trade imbalance between China and Maldives is “so huge that nobody would think of a free trade agreement between such parties.” He also spoke to the BBC and said that the trade deal was “very one-sided” and that Chinese investments would be reviewed.
Former president Abdulla Yameen, in December last year, had signed the free trade agreement with China. Later that month, the parliament ratified the treaty despite the complaints raised by the opposition that he rushed through the 1,000-page document in less than an hour without debate.
Nasheed told Reuters that parliament would not pass legal changes needed for the zero tariffs agreement to come into action. Of the $258 million between the two countries last year, 99 per cent of the trade happened consisted of Chinese exports to Maldives, as per the data by Bloomberg.
After he joined office on Saturday, Solih declared that large scale corruption had exhausted state coffers and cautioned that the country has become alienated from the international community. The inauguration was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He visited the country for the first time.
Solih, without mentioning China directly, said, ”The treasury has endured has endured a colossal blow owning to reckless mega development projects undertaken purely for political gain.”
Highlighting the move shift away from China and the country’s market influence, Solih’s office on Monday said that the country – a tropical tourist destination southwest of India – would rejoin Britain’s Commonwealth of Nations. In a mention to restrictions on freedom of speech and the imprisoning of opposition leaders under Yameen, the statement spoke of the importance of promoting freedom of expression, human rights and democracy.