Chinese Ambassador Wang Fukang has told Chinese news agency Xinhua that China and the Maldives are in a position to expand economic cooperation across wide areas.
“The ambassador said that the current Maldivian government is trying to diversify its single economic structure and is committed to attract more foreign investments, including those coming from China,” wrote the state news agency.
“Wang noted that since Maldives is located in the heart of the Indian Ocean, it is an ideal hub for trade between East and the West and that every year a large number of cargo ships pass through the Maldivian territorial waters.
Since Maldives is also a member of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), it enjoys preferential tax in the region. With the help of these benefits, the Maldivian government aims to actively attract foreign investments, establish special economic zones and develop transshipment and manufacturing industries.
The Maldivian government organized the first “Maldives Investment Forum” in Singapore in April, promoting five mega- projects, including the special economic zones, expansion of Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, Hulhumale’ Phase II development, expansion of Male Harbor and oil exploration.
Currently, the Maldivian government is formulating a Special Economic Zone Bill which aims to provide more incentives to foreign investors in terms of tax breaks, relaxed financial requirements and preferential land use.
Ambassador Wang stressed that China and Maldives could focus on enhancing cooperation in three areas.
‘The first is tourism cooperation. Since 2010, China has remained the largest source of tourist arrivals in the Maldives. In 2013 alone, more than 330,000 Chinese tourists visited Maldives. In the future, both sides could encourage more Chinese tourists to visit Maldives. Maldives could attract potential Chinese companies to invest in the tourism sector of the country,’ Wang said.
The second area for cooperation between the two countries is infrastructure development.The new Maldivian government could initiate large-scale infrastructure projects where Chinese enterprises could participate, he said.
The third area is maritime cooperation. Wang said that China is willing to train maritime personnel, discuss and sign memorandums of understanding in the area of maritime cooperation, strengthening cooperation in fisheries, marine research, protection of ecology and environment as well as climate change.”