Former President of the Maldives, and Speaker of the Parliament Mohamed Nasheed has stated that former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom did not want to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Maldives and China.
The Free Trade Agreement with China was approved by the Parliament in 2017 in under ten minutes during former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom's tenure. The contentious agreement was signed off after official talks between the then Maldives president and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping during the former's first state visit to the global super power in 2017.
Kaashidhoo MP Abdulla Jabir has alleged that the current government is holding off on benefits that are to be given to local fishermen under the FTA. Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer was questioned on the matter during Wednesday’s Parliament sitting.
Responding to the MP’s inquiry, Minister Ameer said the FTA can be implemented only after the relevant laws are formed and established, and that the responsibility of making the laws is on the parliament. However, the FTA does not bring a significant benefit to local fishermen, said the minister.
Supporting Minister Ameer’s statement, Speaker of the parliament, Mohamed Nasheed said according to Clause 165 of the FTA, the agreement will be implemented only after relevant laws are forumalated by both countries and after other relevant agreements are exchanged between both countries within 30 days of signing the FTA. Therefore, the FTA between both countries does not exist, said Nasheed.
After Nasheed’s comments prompted MP Jabir to question if Nasheed has the power to declare an official agreement as void, Nasheed responded by stating that he claimed the FTA did not exist due to incomplete procedures. While the administration of former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom had the opportunity to formulate the necesary laws, the work was not completed by Yameen as he himself did not wish to move forward with the FTA, claimed Nasheed.