Former Minister of Economic Development who had signed the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between China and Maldives on behalf of the country has refuted Parliament Speaker Mohamed Nasheed's claim that the FTA is 'dead'.
The Speaker was inquired on the state of the agreement in an interview by India's WION News during his ongoing visit to the neighboring nation India. In response, Nasheed said the FTA is 'dead' and that it is not proceeding or being implemented.
"The FTA is dead. It is not proceeding. First it needs to be brought to parliament for implementation, and I do not see our parliamentarians going forward in support of the agreement", Nasheed said.
In rebuttal, Maavah Constituency MP and former Minister of Economic Development Saeed asserted that top government officials should discourage his claims.
Saeed said that Nasheed was making ludicrous, politically motivated statements and called on President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid to hold the Speaker accountable for his irresponsible conduct. He further stated that the FTA is not 'dead'.
Nasheed has previously made similar remarks of the government dissolving the FTA as well. Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid subsequently denied these claims, stating that the government had made no such decision. Any decision to dissolve the agreement will be pursued after much research and assessment, the Minister said.
The Free Trade Agreement with China was approved by Parliament in in a rush during former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom's tenure. Opposition at the time raised concerns that the agreement was not carefully deliberated prior to approval. However, Parliamentarians approved the motion during an emergency assembly on November 2017.
The contentious agreement was signed off the following month after holding official talks between the former President of Maldives and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping during his first state visit to the global super power.
The signing ceremony was held in the Beijing Great Hall of People, where then Economic Minister Mohamed Saeed signed on behalf of Maldives. China was represented by their Minister of Commerce and Industries Zhong Shan.