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“If they are considering FTA with India, we will surely look into it”: MEA denies any FTA proposal with Maldives

MEA Spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal (Photo: ANI)

Denying reports of offering any Free Trade Agreement (FTA) proposals to Maldives, the Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday said that if Maldives is considering FTA with India, it will surely be looked into.

MEA Spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said that the Indian government has not offered any Free Trade Agreement (FTA) proposal to the Maldivian government.

“On Maldives, we have seen some reports the Minister speaking about we (India) offering FTA. We havent done so. If Maldives is considering FTA with us, we will surely look into it,” Jaiswal said during the weekly presser.

Last week, Maldivian Economic Minister Mohamed Saeed announced that efforts were underway to reach a new Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Maldives and India, as reported by Maldivian online news outlet Adhadhu.

Notably, an FTA was signed between South Asian countries in 2004. The agreement was titled the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA). The agreement was signed to empower the region economically and facilitate trade.

Maldives signed SAFTA but it does not have FTAs with individual countries in the region, Adhadhu reported.

Maldivian Economic Minister Saeed made this statement during a press conference last week and said India had requested for an FTA with the Maldives, to which, MEA Spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal denied.

“In my recent talks with India, they expressed their wish to have a free trade agreement with Maldives separately, in addition to SAFTA. The President wants to have that opportunity with all countries,” Maldivian Economic Minister said.

Earlier this month, the Indian government provided a budget support to Maldives in the form of a rollover of USD 50 million Treasury Bill, for an additional year at the request of Maldivian Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer.

“State Bank of India has subscribed for one more year the USD 50 million Government Treasury Bill, issued by the Ministry of Finance of Maldives, upon maturity of the previous subscription. These Government Treasury Bills are subscribed by SBI under by SBI under a unique Government-to-Government arrangement at zero-cost (interest-free) to the Government of Maldives,” the Indian High Commission in Maldives said in a statement.

This extension of the subscription has been done at the request of the Maldivian government.

The ministry further appreciated the Indian government’s support to the Maldives in the form of budgetary allocation.

Calling it a “true gesture of goodwill,” Maldives Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer thanked External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar after India extended budgetary support to Maldives in the form of a rollover of USD 50 Million Treasury Bill.