Maldivian Vice President Abdulla Jihad, who is on a visit to India, on Tuesday said the country will sign its first free trade agreement early next year to boost trade and cooperation with other countries. However, he did not name any country for the FTA. “Maldives has embarked upon revising its key legislation and introduction of new laws to increase trade and ease of doing business to attract investment. The government is also working on signing bilateral investment treaties in respective countries. I would like to note here that our first free trade agreement will be signed early next year,” Jihad told the third Maldives Investment Forum in new Delhi.
Maldives has grown from being one of the poorest island nations as well one of the least developed countries during 1970s to an upper middle income developing country presently on the back of tourism and related activities and innovative policies and foresight of successive governments, he said. Lauding the entrepreneurial spirit of the private sector, he said: “The GDP per capita of the country now exceeds USD 7000, from less than USD 275 in 70s. This dramatic increase is mainly driven by tourism and related activities.”
Development in fisheries and agricultural activities has helped transform the country to what it is today, he added. “It is investment, both foreign and domestic that has transformed our economy and elevated to current position. On the strength of our past achievements, the government is looking into new investments and is actively seeking foreign direct investment as it is one of the fundamental driving forces of Government policies,” Jihad said.
The Maldivian government is committed to change its legal framework to allow trade and investment to diversify economy and there has been massive progress on the infrastructure front, he added. Regional airport connectivity, port expansion, scaling of infrastructure, incentives under Special Economic Zones law, easy access to credit for private sector are the major steps the Government of Maldives has taken.