Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has visited the Maldives in the first such visit by a Thai leader since the establishment of diplomatic relations 34 years ago.
Following a meeting on Friday, President of the Maldives Dr Mohamed Waheed announced the two countries had signed seven agreements, mostly relating to trade and economic cooperation.
“Thailand is one of the largest trading partners of the Maldives. Nearly 30 percent of our exports go to Thailand. And we would like to increase that number significantly in the coming years,” said Dr Waheed.
Shinawatra noted that trade between Thailand and the Maldives was worth US$100 million, and expressed an interest in this doubling by 2018.
Dr Waheed expressed interest in a visa waiver, and said he welcomed further Thai investment in the Maldives, including the tourism sector.
“We also discussed the need for expanding investment in other sectors, such as food processing, infrastructure development, construction, and health care,” Waheed said.
“I was pleased to see the agreement signed between the ADK Hospital and the Thonburi Hospital. I would like to encourage more Maldivian companies to enter into similar understanding with foreign partners that would allow sharing of experience and expertise,” he added.
“The Thai Exim-Bank was the major investor in the Hulhumale’ development project. The Bank’s role in the project would come to an end next year. We welcome Thai Exim-Bank’s investment in other large-scale infrastructure projects,” Dr Waheed added.
Thailand’s Minister of Defence, Air Chief Marshal Sukampol Suwannathat, meanwhile visited the Maldives National Defence Force’s hospital, and its training centre on the island of Girifushi.