New Delhi, Jan 29 : Union Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh will begin a three-day visit to the Maldives from oday as part of his drive to expand trade and investment ties ithin SAARC.
The visit assumes significance in light of the forthcoming SAFTA inisterial meeting in New Delhi on March 1 and 2. Ramesh will review the working of the Indo-Maldives Trade greement of 1981 in light of the changes that have taken place n the economies of both countries. India supplies essential ommodities like rice, wheat flour, eggs, potatoes, stones and and as part of this agreement.
Even though wheat exports from India are banned, as a measure of he importance it attaches to SAARC in general and Maldives in articular, India supplies wheat flour to Maldives.
Ramesh's visit is to explore how India can expand its trade and nvestment presence in Maldives, a country of great strategic ignificance to it.
Fisheries is one important area for bilateral cooperation that is roposed to be discussed during his visit.
Cooperation in tuna is one specific area that will be discussed ow that India has also announced major plans to develop its tuna esources, particularly in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
In addition, Maldives has sought India's assistance to develop it s a trans-shipment and logistics hub because of its strategic ocation. Maldives has also expressed in expanding the scope of raining in IT.
India accounts for around 10-11 per cent of Maldives imports, ext to Singapore and Sri Lanka and is on par with UAE.
Exports from India to Maldives are presently in the region of bout 100 million dollars. Singapore accounts for almost 90 per ent of the FDI into Maldives, followed by Malaysia.