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“Signifies longstanding friendship”: Maldives Foreign Minister thanks India for allowing export of essential commodities to island nation

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Maldives foreign minister Moosa Zameer (Photo: @MoosaZameer)

Maldives Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer “sincerely thanked” India on Saturday for allowing the export of essential goods to the island nation, despite the downturn in relations amid rising Chinese influence in Male.

Conveying his “sincere” thanks to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar as well as the Indian government for the move, Zameer said that it “signifies the longstanding friendship” between the two nations.

Amid the thaw in mutual ties, India has allowed the export of certain quantities of essential commodities for 2024-25 under a unique bilateral mechanism, at the request of the Maldives government.

In a post on social media platform X, the Maldivian Foreign Minister wrote, “I sincerely thank EAM @DrSJaishankar and the Government of #India for the renewal of the quota to enable #Maldives to import essential commodities from India during the years 2024 and 2025.”

“This is truly a gesture which signifies the longstanding friendship, and the strong commitment to further expand bilateral trade and commerce between our two countries,” he added.

The High Commission of India in the Maldives posted on Thursday on X, stating that the quotas for each of these items have been revised upwards.

“Upon the request of the Government of Maldives, the Government of India has allowed for export of certain quantities of essential commodities for the year 2024-25 under a unique bilateral mechanism, wherein, the quotas for each of these items have been revised upwards,” the post stated.

Notably, the approved quantities are the highest since this arrangement came into effect in 1981.

The quota for river sand and stone aggregates, crucial items for the booming construction industry in the Maldives, has been increased by 25 per cent to 1,000,000 metric tonnes.

There has also been an increase of 5 per cent in the quotas for eggs, potatoes, onions, sugar, rice, wheat flour and dal (pulses). Moreover, last year as well, India continued to export rice, sugar and onions to the Maldives despite a worldwide ban on the export of these items from India.

“India remains strongly committed to supporting human-centric development in the Maldives, as part of its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy,” the statement by the Indian High Commission in Maldives stated.

Notably, ties between India and the Maldives have been strained since Mohamed Muizzu assumed office, as he criticised New Delhi during and after the presidential polls.

However, in March, Muizzu requested New Delhi for debt relief measures, while stating that India will continue to remain Maldives’ “closest ally,” local media reported.

He further claimed that he has “not taken any action nor made any statements” that may strain the relationship between the two countries.