Former president Mohamed Nasheed says the China-Maldives Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has been formulated to benefit China and that it would be detrimental to the Maldivian economy.
The opposition leader said this in a tweet on Thursday, shortly after the parliament hastily approved the FTA.
He said that the agreement “must be in the best interest of the people of Maldives”.
Nasheed’s party, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), has also expressed concern about the FTA.
In a statement, the party said that it is deeply alarmed that the government is entering into a trade deal that will have “immense economic repercussions” on the country’s economy.
MDP highlighted that information related to the agreement has not been shared with the public, and said that there has been no information that a feasibility was done or the agreement was even discussed with the cabinet.
“Trade balance remains considerably in favour of China, and the MDP is therefore concerned that the FTA will further increase the deficit. We are also deeply concerned that further entrenchment of the country into a Chinese debt trap will result in additional stress on strategic national assets and increasing instability in the Indian Ocean region.”
The party further stated that it is concerned that the FTA is a short-sighted, political agreement between the two countries, and called on the government to suspend the implementation of the FTA until a proper feasibility study is conducted to ensure that the agreement is in the best interest of the Maldives.