President Abdulla Yameen has held meetings with prominent businessmen, economists, and industrialists during his current state visit to Japan.
Yameen has held meetings with the senior figures at the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and the Japan International Cooperation (JICA), as well as tourism and business leaders – including the president of the Hitachi company.
The second day of the president’s visit also saw a meeting with Japanese Minister for Internal Affairs Yoshitaka Shindo, with the prospect of a Japanese embassy in the Maldives being discussed.
In his meeting with the JICA governor Hiroshi Watanabe, Yameen discussed means of obtaining funds for various development projects in the Maldives. The president broached the subjects of financial assistance for the Maldives airport development project, as well as a project to be focused on the island of Ihavandhihpolhu.
He further thanked the Senior Vice President of JICA Hidiaki Domicia for the assistance that JICA has extended in the implementation of projects in the Maldives under the aid of the Japanese government.
As the coordinating body of Japan’s overseas development assistance, JICA oversaw projects worth US$450 million to the Maldives in development assistance between 2004 and 2010.
Projects benefiting from Japanese aid have included the first mechanisation of fishing vessels between 1973-76, the development of Malé’s seawall between 1987-2003, and the extension of loans amounting to US$34 million for post-tsunami reconstruction.
During a meeting with Hitachi’s President Toshiaki Higashihara yesterday, Yameen thanked the company for its cooperation with the State Trading Organisation and for its interest in energy-related projects in the Maldives.
Yameen also met with leaders of the Japanese tourism industry, including senior officials from travel agencies, travel publications, tour guides, and the media.
After providing information about current tourism development projects in the country, Yameen noted that the Maldives’ global recognition as a high level tourist destination made it one of the most beneficial areas in which foreign businesses can invest.
The president also noted the need for foreign assistance to further develop the tourism sector, reasserting that the current atmosphere in the country is peaceful after some political turbulence at the time of his taking office.
Yameen assured investors that the Maldives is currently in the collective mindset of overcoming differences, maintaining peace, and promoting development.
President Yameen also attended a forum titled ‘Maldives Investment Promotion Forum’ – organised by the Japan External Trade Organisation, and attended by senior businessmen of the country.
Thanking investors for their interest in the country, Yameen provided details of investment opportunities currently available in the Maldives.
According to the President’s Office website, he highlighted that the current government’s intention to introduce numerous incentives for foreign investors in a bid to further strengthen the country’s economy.
Earlier this month, Yameen revealed that legislation will be proposed during the next parliament which will create special economic zones, will he feels will be “likened to cities in Dubai or the Emirates”.
The new laws would enable investors to have “freeholds” in the country and allow investors “to engage in really, really long gestative projects,” he told investors.
“What we would like to confirm for the foreign investors who come to the Maldives is that foreign investors should feel that Maldives is your second home here.”
“We are going to open up the Maldives in a huge way to foreign investors. Our thirst cannot be quenched. The opportunity to foreign investors is going to be enormous. So have faith and trust in us,” Yameen said.
The president has continued to outline future investment opportunities in the country to Japanese investors this week.
The areas he mentioned include the handling of incidents that arise due to natural disasters, environmental protection, education, health, youth empowerment, sports, agriculture, human resources, security, and infrastructure development.
Together with President Yameen, Minister of Economic Development Mohamed Saeed, and Minister of Tourism Ahmed Adeeb also attended the investment promotion forum.