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India Lifts Export Restrictions on Essential Goods for Maldives Amid Diplomatic Strain

India has removed export restrictions on essential commodities for the Maldives, including items like eggs, potatoes, onions, rice, wheat flour, sugar, and dal, for the fiscal year 2024-25. This move comes despite strained diplomatic relations between the two countries since November last year.

Bilateral Trade Agreement

Under the bilateral trade agreement, specified quantities of essential goods have been permitted for export to the Maldives, exempting them from any existing or future export restrictions. The approved quantities mark the highest since the arrangement’s inception in 1981.

Increased Quotas

The quotas for various commodities, including eggs, potatoes, onions, sugar, rice, wheat flour, and dal, have been raised by 5%. Additionally, the quotas for river sand and stone aggregates, crucial for the Maldives’ construction industry, have been increased by 25% to 1 million metric tonnes each.

Background on Diplomatic Tensions

Diplomatic tensions between India and the Maldives escalated following President Mohamed Muizzu’s assumption of office, exacerbated by contentious remarks from Maldivian officials and social media backlash from India. Despite this, India remains committed to supporting human-centric development in the Maldives as part of its Neighbourhood First policy.

Trade Statistics

India has emerged as the Maldives’ significant trade partner, with bilateral trade reaching $973.37 million in 2022-23, up from approximately $740 million in the previous fiscal year. Indian imports from the Maldives mainly consist of scrap metals, while exports include a range of engineering and industrial products, drugs and pharmaceuticals, and agricultural produce.

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