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‘No proposal made’ to Maldivian Minister’s claim on FTA : MEA

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NEW DELHI : India said it has not made any proposal to the Maldives for a bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and that it was ready to consider if the island nation expresses interest for such a pact.

“No specific proposal for a bilateral FTA with the Maldives has been made by the Government of India,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said.

“If the Government of Maldives expresses interest in having an FTA with India, we will give it due consideration,” he said.

Jaiswal’s comments came in response to a question at his weekly media briefing. Last week, Maldivian Minister for Economic Development and Trade Mohamed Saeed indicated that India has initiated efforts to have an FTA between the two countries.

“They (India) want there to be a Free Trade Agreement with Maldives, in addition to SAFTA (South Asian Free Trade Agreement),” Saeed told a press conference in Male.

The Maldives President has offered this opportunity to all countries, Saeed said, adding that the government aims to enter into such agreements with as many countries as possible to offer ease in trade activities.

The ties between India and the Maldives came under strain since November last year when President Mohamed Muizzu, known for his pro-China leanings, took the oath.

Within hours of his oath, he had demanded the withdrawal of Indian military personnel from his country.

The last of the Indian military personnel were replaced by civilians earlier this month.

The Maldives is one of India’s key maritime neighbours in the Indian Ocean Region and the overall bilateral ties including in areas of defence and security witnessed an upward trajectory under the previous government in Male.

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