India imposes port restrictions for Maldives essential imports

Maldivian President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu meets India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 1, 2023. (Photo/President's Office)

The Indian government has imposed port restrictions on the export of prohibited or restricted essential commodities to the Maldives.

India has imposed this restriction according to a notification from the Directorate Genral of Foreign Trade (DGFT).

As per the new policy, export of essential commodities to the Maldives will now be permitted only through four customs stations; which are the Mundra Sea Port, Tuticorin Sea Port, Nhava Sheva Sea Port, and the ICD Tughlakabad according to the DGFT notice.

Earlier, India had imposed export restrictions on nine commodities including onion, potato, egg, rice, and sugar. However, it allowed the export of these commodities under the 'Neighborhood First' policy of the Indian government.

Notably, since the 1981 agreement between India and Maldives allowing for the export of essential commodities, Maldives received the highest import quota for the items this year.

India has also increased the export quota of construction materials to the Maldives by 25%, allowing the export of 1,000 metric tons.

The South Asian ally restricted flour exports earlier in 2022 and imposed restrictions on onion exports in December 2023.

India, however, extended export permission to close allies which included Bangladesh, United Arab Emirates, and Indonesia along with the Maldives, despite this restriction.

After the 'India Out' campaign led by President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu and the ruling coalition prior to ascension to power, the current administration began reducing its reliance on the Indian government for aid.

In its efforts to lower the reliance, Maldives government had entered into agreements with the Turkish government to import rice, flour, sugar and other essentials.

Additionally, Maldives government is discussing to faciliate Aasandha service in UAE and Thailand in its bid to reduce dependency on India.

Following the Maldives regime change in November 2023, its relation with neighboring India has deteriorated over the past months.

The India-Maldives tension escalated after some senior Maldivian government officials made derogatory remarks against the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on X.