China: Maldives will make the ‘correct choice’ on trade deal

Signing of free trade deal between Maldives and China. (File Photo/President's Office)

China believes the Maldivian government will make the correct choice regarding the bilateral free trade, says Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China.

The statement by Chinese Foreign Ministry follows a report carried by Reuters that Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s administration has made the decision to pull out of the trade deal.

During a press conference last Tuesday in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said the trade deal has undergone “friendly and equal” consultations and maintained that the trade deal was mutually beneficial.

“Its early implementation will lead to early benefits for both sides. We believe the Maldives government will make the correct choice,” said Geng.

The spokesperson did not go into detail on the subject.

Leader of ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed reported to Reuters earlier this week that a free trade agreement with China was a mistake and that the Parliament will not allow for the changes to the law required in order to implement the trade deal.

He said a free trade deal between a small island nation and the world’s second largest economy was one-sided.

The free trade agreement was signed by former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom during a visit to China in December, 2017.

Relations between Maldives and China was strengthened during Yameen’s administration, which also provided assurance Maldives will join the Belt and Road Initiative by China.