The European Union (EU) imposed restrictions on Maldivian export of canned tuna for refusing to change or abandon Islamic principles, President Abdulla Yameen claimed today, declaring a foreign policy shift to the East.
In his address to the nation on the occasion of Republic Day, President Yameen said economic cooperation with China does not involve the same challenges to remaining an Islamic state posed by “Western colonial powers”.
“Participating in business with China does not involve any such compulsion for us,” Yameen said at a ceremony at the Dharubaaruge convention centre this morning.
Yameen referred to the EU’s refusal to extend the duty-free status of imported fish from the Maldives following the country’s failure to comply with international conventions concerning freedom of religion.
Until January 2014, fish exports to the EU – the single largest export partner by value – were duty-free under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme, a non-reciprocal trade agreement extended to developing countries.
Last year, the government’s application for a year’s extension under the ‘GSP Plus’ program was declined as it had not ratified all 27 required international conventions. The Maldives holds reservations concerning the freedom of religion component of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Former Fisheries Minister Shafeeu told Minivan News in November 2013 that the Maldives would lose its competitive advantage over the larger fishing fleets of nearby Sri Lanka and Thailand with a 14-20 tariff on fish imports, and reduce profits to “a marginal value”.
President Yameen said there was “no way forward” for the country regarding the issue.
“The government’s thinking is changing towards the East,” he said.
Under the Maldivian Constitution, all citizens are required to be Sunni Muslim and the practice of other religions as well as places of worship are prohibited. Customs authorities forbid the import of religious items and scan the baggage of tourists arriving at the airport.
Former Minister Shafeeu explained last year that the EU’s move was not unexpected as Maldivian fisheries had been given a three year extension of its duty-free status after graduating from the UN’s definition of a ‘least developed’ country to ‘middle income’ in 2011.
The government decided to participate in the Chinese 21st Century Maritime Silk Route initiative because China is currently the strongest and fastest growing economy in the world, President Yameen said.
As a result, Yameen continued, the government believes that the “multi-million dollar infrastructure investment” needed for economic development would “arrive through this door.”
Participation in the Silk Road initiative would not adversely affect either the Maldives independence and sovereignty or the Islamic identity of the nation, he insisted.
Ahead of his maiden state visit in September, Chinese President Xi Jingping called on the Maldives “to get actively involved” in the creation of a maritime trade route linking China to the east coast of Africa and the Mediterranean.
Meanwhile, former President Mohamed Nasheed has criticised the decision to join the Silk Route initiative, contending that it would threaten Indian Ocean security and risk putting the Maldives in the middle of war or disputes between Asian powers.
“Indian Ocean stability depends on a firm Indian hand. President Yameen must reverse his decision on Maldives being a party to the Silk Route,” the opposition leader tweeted on November 8.
21 thoughts on “President Yameen slams “Western colonial powers,” declares foreign policy shift to East”
Why does the rich EU charges an import tax only gets a few million Euros?
Some say its not about money. Then is it about trade?
But EU does not have a tuna industry to protect. More over the EU cannaries really need tuna as a cheap raw material.
So its very clear that EU does not stand to gain any benefit from imposing a very high tax on the poor Maldivian fisherman, finacially, economically or morally.
The fact of the matter is EU is a the worlds largest and famous bureacracy with complicated rules. Maldives foreign service is not up to standard to deal with global issues of 21st century.
The issue is the poor capacity of the Maldives Government (espcially Ministry of Foreign) to think beyond their nose tip.
There are many scapegoats to show for ones incompetence. Islam, arecnut trees, the weather.. all are excuses.
The EU does not need a couple of million Euros from Maldives.
When MDP comes to power, one call from David Cameron and this issue will be resolved
What different does this make giving Male' International Airport to GMR or making a maritime path thru Maldive?
This foreign policy shift towards China is great. Blame all your failures on the 'western colonial powers'.
Can we now expect your students to go to Beijing for higher studies and your sick to go to Shanghai for medical treatment? If not, why not?
Can we also expect you to source your foodstuffs, medicines, car parts, stationery, building materials, tea, coffee, basmati rice, movies, textiles, clothing, petroleum products, drinking water and almost every thing else that you need from Hong Kong? If not, why not?
We can survive without the 'insignificant' Maldives market for our goods, but can you survive without cheap imports from India?
Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Japan and India all produce excellent sea food products and they don't deport or imprison an 'infidel' foreigner for pulling out a bible from his luggage.
What is the reason for this paranoia and insecurity? Does your motor not have any forward gears? Only reverse?
MissIndiaAgarwaltheThug, Maldivians do not have to abide by your silly rhetoric in that you Indians have been from ages subservient to invading forces and conversions to all sorts of faiths hence, faith is the subject of discussion here. Try converting Catholics in Vatican and then come to talk about religion with the Maldivians you begot.
Maldivians do not need to trade with Europe at the expense of surrendering their faith to them or to your incohorent garbage.
China being a Godless communist country couldn't care less if we do not abide by international conventions and laws. China is of course very rich cash wise but take a look at that country's record of human rights violations. To think China is going to pour buckets of money in this country purely out of love is ridiculous.
World of a difference Mr. Naseem! The terms of Agreement High Commissioner Mulley arm-twisted and won for GMR was a sale of the main gateway airport and the sovereignty of our beloved nation to a corrupt-to-the-hilt Indian company. No such engagement has happened "making a maritime path thru Maldive".
MissIndiaAgarwaltheThug, in your cocooned-world of animal husbandry, only cows seem to have forward and more of reverse gear.
Maldives president joins the league of Putin, Hugo Chaves, Ahmadenijad, Kim Jong etc.. Maldives was never colonized by the west and Maldivians do not have the negative feelings towards the west. So why create these kind of stories.
This Government clearly likes to invent imaginary scapegoats and enemies, rather than face reality.
Yes! China cares for its Muslim population more than the evil EU does for theirs. HA!
Maldives wanted preferential treatment from the EU for tuna exports but didn't follow through with the requirements to receive those privileges. Maldives, it is your right as a sovereign nation to deny religious freedom to citizens and foreigners. But it's the EU's right to deny Maldives special treatment for not allowing religious freedom. That's not imposing Western values on your backwards country. It's taking away a reward for denying your citizens freedom of choice. You can still do whatever you want with your tuna and your religion of peace and tolerance.
China and Maldives are a match made in heaven. It's hard to find 2 countries that care less about human rights, environmental concerns, etc. Do a bit of research on China's treatment of its Muslim citizens, not a pretty picture.
But Chinese tourists don't mind looking at all the rubbish thrown around local islands and they certainly don't care about waste/sewage management. They won't be bothered by sharia law either as long as it stays in Maldives. Adeeb should stop courting Western tourists altogether and just focus on China and the Middle East markets.
But Maldives can't live without infidel money. So we'll see Yameen, Adeeb, etc. continue to put their hands out for cash from the evil West. And China will rape and pillage this place without a second thought.
This claim of EU applying trade restrictions is ABSOLUTELY FALSE, Mr Prez please understand first.
Maldives is still free to export to EU just as any other country in the world. What EU didn't extend was the special benefits which EU extended before - benefits not extended generally trading partners.
EU was just made a scapegoat by the politics of this Maldivian government.
Miss India, if Maldives is of such insignificance to you why don't you leave it alone to mend for itself. why blabber non sense? maybe sitting in the high commission and having bungled a good relationship you are trying to create more trouble? way to go ....
Blame it the evil west - what a brilliant policy!!
No need to take any responsibility and Mullas are happy as a clam.
What the F***** Silk Road, to hell with it…. Just stop acting like some important guy in the middle of no land with few thousand brain less fish hunters. People…! Remove these egocentric crazy people, and let in the common man Mr Anni with common sense. You need to find a way how you can survive for that you have to work either fish hunting or Tourist hunting. Bloody morons are just living in the bubble world created by Golhabo. Just get out from this bubble world or else you will be as useless as zombies. No one cares about you, why would anyone one on earth bother some insignificant people who can do no harm or profit to anyone. This idiot should stop meddling with others to get attention and start to work to give the opportunity for his people to live an individual life the way he wants.
mr thug habib.what kind of faith are you talking about.you must be really proud of what you have here.Miss india,very well said.if you ban the export of kans bee bahu ki beytee for one month from india,all naifaru and alifushi people will riot against the government
Muslims have more rights in Europe than Muslim living in Maldives. Since Maldives graduated from least developed country status Maldives has lost many handouts & freebies from developed countries. Chinese & Maldivians have a similar kind of govt now.
MissIndiaAgarwaltheThug, in your cocooned-world of animal husbandry, only cows seem to have forward and more of reverse gear.
Maldivians do not have to abide by your silly rhetoric in that you Indians have been from ages subservient to invading forces and conversions to all sorts of faiths hence, faith is the subject of discussion here. Try converting Catholics in Vatican and then come to talk about religion with the Maldivians you begot.
Maldivians do not need to trade with Europe at the expense of surrendering their Islamic faith to them or to your unintelligible garbage enforced through bribery and corruption by India sponsored and bribed locals and their dark forces in the Maldives
Someone should remind the Government, that the economy of this country is based on tourism and that the core market is Europe.
Without European tourists the Maldivian tourism industry will collapse. Although in recent years China has emerged as a major market for tourism, the Chinese come to the Maldives because of the fact that Maldives is a famous European tourist destination. The moment the European tourists stop coming to the Maldives, Chinese tourists will stop coming.
It is in the vital interest of this country for the government to improve its image in the West by addressing the human rights issues and by taking action to stop Islamic radicalism.
If the government believes that China is the saviour and the solution for all the problems facing this country, it is BIG MISTAKE!
Dear beloved Maldivian folks, it is not the first time our Tuna Industry has been in crisis with buyers over the ages. We had problems in the past where when “Buyer Economies” went-through-rough-riding either they completely stopped importing our fish or made adjustments by taking time over a joint discourse or agreed to review our product line. From hardcore dry and salted-dry,frozen, canned and to modern-day fresh-on-ice did not happened over-night. Once again it is a time for refelection and be Maldivian – Yes, be innovative and creative then move on! No need for blame-game and time wasting and blabbering. Move on baby, move on baby. When One door closes knock on the next one, move on baby move on baby; while keeping our proud identity of remaining as devouted Muslims and monolingual Dhiveheen.
Hey,maldives try selling your tuna to arabs,for starters,arabs prefer meat to fish, I think most arabs like all global people prefer cheaper rate items,so can maldives match the cheaper price of tuna of Thailand and Sri Lanka
MissIndiaAgarwaltheThug, you must know that neither our tuna fish nor our resort prices are Cheap. Nor are the wages and salary we pay to you, your compatriots and others, cheap either. That should be the very reason you are here for. However, it doesn't seem to be especially,in your case.You are here to disrupt, and disturb the peace of mind and life of every Maldivian. Aren't you ashamed?
The word MALDIVES is a Brand and that Brand is considered to be most desirable universally.It sure fetch a comparable price in today's world. Check the average rates of resort hotels and export quality fish. They are higher than any other country in the world. Right now is our high season for tourism. Check the rates and compare them to any in the world. Mere jealousy runs deep in your blood. Ask for a cure and I will guide to NIMHANS in Bangalore in India. They sure treat people of your sort from the time of the British Raj. Only they MAY BE ABLE TO HELP YOU. Leave the Maldives and the Maldivians to attend to themselves. They have lived through the ages and it has always been people of your sort who annoy us, the latest being GMR and High Commissioner Mullay.
Yesterday he slammed Indians; now he is slamming the West; and may be tomorrow he might be slamming the Chinese. Once all other countries in list are over - please start blaming the Martians. Only thing required is what concrete investment Chinese govt has offered that is making Mr. Yameen go ballistic? Or is he just trying to use Chinese influence as a bargaining chip to get back the EU market? If so, he surely is mistaken.
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