Will consider only when… India rejects Muizzu’s minister’s claim of demanding FTA

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During the weekly press briefing, Jaiswal said that there is no specific proposal by the Indian government for a bilateral FTA with Maldives. If the Maldives government expresses interest in an FTA with India, we will give it due consideration.

The Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday rejected media reports that claimed that India was seeking a free trade agreement (FTA) with the Maldives. However, it stressed that India will consider it if Male wants. MEA spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal’s remarks came after media reports claimed that the Indian government had offered an FTA proposal to the Maldives government. “There is no specific proposal for a bilateral FTA with the Maldives by the Indian government. If the Maldives government expresses interest in an FTA with India, we will give it due consideration,” Jaiswal said during the weekly press briefing.

Earlier on Saturday, Maldives said India has initiated efforts to forge a free trade agreement between the two countries and discussions are underway to achieve this. “They (India) want to have a free trade agreement with Maldives apart from SAFTA (South Asian Free Trade Agreement),” Minister of Economic Development and Trade Mohamed Saeed said at a press conference in Male. Saeed said the Maldives President has given this opportunity to all countries and the government’s aim is to enter into agreements with as many countries as possible to provide ease of business activities.

The 1981 India and Maldives Trade Agreement provides for the export of essential commodities. Growing from modest beginnings, India-Maldives bilateral trade crossed USD 300 million for the first time in 2021, set to surpass USD 500 million in 2022, according to Indian High Commission records. Despite revealing India’s proposal for an FTA, Saeed did not reveal further details about the high-level meeting between him and Indian High Commissioner to Maldives Munu Mahavar. The two discussed further strengthening the cooperative ties of the two countries in several areas, the report said.

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