Maldives has reiterated its request to consider granting duty free access to the European Union (EU) for its fisheries products.
This was among the many items discussed during the fifth annual Policy Dialogue between Maldives and the EU held virtually on Monday.
In a joint press release, Maldives and EU stated that their discussions covered “a wide array of thematic areas” including democracy and governance, strengthening of the justice sector, promotion and protection of human rights, advancing the rights of vulnerable groups, security cooperation, cooperation in the fisheries sector, economic sector, trade, investment and economic policy, financial policy, climate change and environment.
The Maldivian delegation shared the country’s action plan on a resilient post Covid-19 recovery, and expressed gratitude to the European Union for the continued assistance towards socio-economic development of the country, particularly noting the support extended for the government’s efforts to combat the virus.
EU provided EUR 1 million to strengthen the Maldives health sector response and EUR 2 million for tourism sector recovery, with a special focus on smaller businesses, back in April. It has also extended EUR 20 million through the European Investment Bank (EIB) to support the economic recovery efforts of the Maldives, by assisting local businesses and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) operating in the tourism and industry sectors.
The Maldives further reaffirmed its strong commitment to consolidate democracy, ensure good governance, and promote respect for human rights including gender equality, as well as to strengthen business ties and explore additional investment opportunities for European businesses in the Maldives and to continue dialogue through the existing Business Roundtable Initiative.
Also on Monday, the Maldives reiterated on the request to consider granting duty free access to the European Union for its fisheries products, and the EU member states had expressed their interest to “remain engaged on exploring opportunities for Maldivian fisheries products”.
During the ensuing discussions, the European Union member states acknowledged the positive efforts of the Maldives to fight illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU), particularly through the recent reforms brought to the respective domestic legislation, but also highlighted the need for continued cooperation in this area.
The EU member states also took note of the request by Maldives to explore the means of facilitating the Schengen Visa process in the Maldives., with the Maldives expressing gratitude to the Governments of Germany, Czech Republic, and Austria in particular for starting to provide visa facilitation services in the island nation.
The Maldives and the European Union member states underscored the importance of furthering cooperation on issues relating to climate change and environmental degradation, with the EU reaffirming their commitment to step up cooperation and work with the Maldives to tackle the challenges posed by climate change.
They also agreed on the need to put in place green and resilient post-Covid-19 recovery strategies.
Both the Maldives and the European Union also agreed to expand cooperation on issues ranging from strengthening maritime security, counter terrorism, prevention of violent extremism and ensuring peace and stability in the region.
The EU delegation was led by the Ambassador of the European Union to the Maldives, Denis Chaibi, and consisted of Heads of Missions from France, Italy, Germany, Finland, Czech Republic, Ireland, Hungary, Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, Austria, Poland, Slovakia, Portugal, Denmark, and Sweden.
Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid led the Maldivian delegation comprising of cabinet ministers and senior government officials.