President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed has attended the 9th China-South Asia Business Forum during his official visit to China, reiterating the government’s focus on increasing foreign investments and strengthening the economy.
Speaking at the event, Jameel stated that his government prioritised economic transformation, youth empowerment, and domestic security, read a statement on the official President’s Office website.
He further spoke of the government’s aim to encourage foreign investment and capital in order to implement the Yameen administration’s economic development programmes and projects.
President Abdulla Yameen has promised a number of ‘mega projects’ during his term, pledging legislation to create a more welcoming investor climate, and organising a landmark investment forum in Singapore in April in order to find potential foreign investors.
The vice president further stated that corporate China has shown interest in engaging in infrastructure development projects in the Maldives. He assured Chinese investors that the government would do all possible to ensure a “flexible and efficient investment climate”.
To this end, the government last week introduced legislation to create special economic zones (SEZ) in strategic locations, with Economic Minister Mohamed Saeed – also present on the China trip – suggesting that the move might help the country end its reliance on tourism.
Jameel noted that China has been the number one tourism market for the Maldives since 2010, predicting that the number of Chinese arrivals – accounting for one in every four tourists in 2014 – will continue to grow.
During the trip, Jameel has also attended the 2nd China-South Asia Expo, where he repeated his belief that foreign investment is crucial for economic growth, private sector development and wealth creation.
“Our government firmly believes that broad based, private sector-led growth is essential to achieving faster development progress and to transform the economy from where it is today,” he is quoted as saying.
The details of some of the ‘mega projects’ were explained to the Chinese audience, with Jameel discussing the ‘iHavan’ project – a regional development project in the northern atolls, potential oil and gas exploration projects, and plans to redevelop the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport.
Last month, the Maldives Airports Company (MACL) signed an agreement with China’s state-owned engineering and construction company, Synohydro, to build a US$9 million parking apron at the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport.
In addition to the forums, Jameel also paid a visit to the Governor of Yunnan Province, H E Mr Li Jiheng.
At the meeting, discussions were held with regard to areas where the countries could increase cooperation, with the governor pledging to work with the Maldives to strengthen cooperation in a number of fields including renewable energy, science and technology, tourism, connectivity, economy and trade.
He further discussed the strengthening of bilateral ties with Vice Premier of China H E Wang Yang.