Maldives seeks to increase fish exports to China

Economic Minister Fayyaz Ismail speaks at the Business Forum on Joint Construction of the ’Belt and Road’ between China and Maldives on December 14, 2022. (Sun Photo/Mohamed Shathiu Abdulla)

Maldives, which currently has very limited exports, wishes to increase fish exports to China, states Maldives’ Economic Minister Fayyaz Ismail.

He made the remark at the Business Forum on Joint Construction of the ’Belt and Road’ between China and Maldives held at Hotel Jen in Male’ on Wednesday.

Speaking at the forum, Fayyaz said the fisheries sector is one of the key industries in Maldives, and one that is closely intertwined with the livelihoods of a large percentage of the Maldivian population.

Fish are also Maldives only merchandised export.

“At current time, we have very limited exports to China. We wish to increase our share of fish exports to China, and we seek your advice and support as to how we may go about this,” he said.

Fayyaz noted that China had been the top source market for tourist arrivals to Maldives before the Covid-19 pandemic, with 284,000 arrivals in 2019 – the highest number from any country.

He noted that arrivals from China have not picked up after the pandemic as Chinese borders remain closed.

“I am hoping direct flights between Maldives and China will resume soon and we will pick up from there. The ambassador has informed me that will happen very soon,” he said.

Fayyaz also noted the importance of the contribution of Chinese contractors and developers in the development of strategic infrastructure assets in Maldives, including the Hiyaa housing project, Sinamale’ Bridge, and the expansion of Velana International Airport.

He noted that Maldives had rebounded from the economic downturn caused by the pandemic faster than expected, and was open for foreign direct investment.

“Despite the disruptions that the pandemic brought for the last two years, the message we send is clear from the Maldives; we are open for business, we are open to engagements, and we are open to long lasting friendships,” he said.

Maldives and China celebrate 50 years to establishment of official diplomatic relations this year.