Chinese Ambassador to the Maldives, Wang Lixin, visited a local fish processing factory in the Maldives on Tuesday and expressed her deep admiration for the high standards of quality control of raw fish, which is very popular in the Chinese market. She further added that the price of Maldivian fish would become more competitive if the Maldives government ratified the China-Maldives Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
The FTA was signed during President Yameen's government, which aimed to strengthen bilateral trade between the two countries. The FTA provides a 0% tariff on many Maldivian products, enabling Maldivians to export more to the Chinese market. However, President Solih's government, after assuming office, has not yet ratified the FTA.
It is important to note that the current ruling party had criticized the FTA when they were in opposition and were against it. Furthermore, India also put pressure on the Maldives not to sign the FTA. This pressure from India is thought to be the main reason the current government has yet to ratify the agreement.
The visit by the Chinese Ambassador to the fish processing factory shows China's continued interest in the Maldivian fishing industry. The Maldives has long been known for its high-quality seafood products, and if the FTA is ratified, Maldivian fish will be more affordable and competitive in the Chinese market.
This visit also serves as a reminder of the ongoing debate within the Maldives about the FTA with China. The current government has faced criticism from some quarters for their reluctance to ratify the agreement, while others argue that it is necessary to balance the country's relationships with both China and India.