The Maldives and India are working on a new Free Trade Agreement (FTA), Economic Minister Mohamed Saeed has said.

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) already has in place the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA), a free trade arrangement which came into force in 2006 which succeeded the 1993 SAARC Preferential Trading Arrangement.

While SAFTA aims to empower economic and trade development on a regional level, the Maldives does not have a significantly similar bilateral agreement with any regional nation.

At a press conference on Monday, Saeed said India had initiated the request for a new agreement.

“In my recent talks with India, they want to have a free trade agreement with Maldives separately, in addition to SAFTA. The President wants to have that opportunity with all countries,” he said.

In addition, under an existing FTA, 296 types of seafood can now be exported to China without any tariffs, he said. The agreement, signed in December 2017, will become ‘active’ once parliament is in session according to the minister.

Similarly, he disclosed that the FTA agreement with Türkiye is now in its final stages and that a broader trade agreement with the UK is also in the works.