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The Maldives: India imposes port restrictions for export of essential commodities

The Maldives: India imposes port restrictions for export of essential commodities

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: Amid volatile bilateral relations with the Maldives, India on Tuesday imposed port restrictions on the export of essential commodities to the island nation in the Indian Ocean which has earned China’s friendship and debt-trap but lost India’s tourists and goodwill in the last six months.

According to a notification issued by the Directorate-General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), the restrictions will be on the export of prohibited or restricted essential commodities that were recently allowed to be shipped to the Maldives.

Export of essential commodities to the island nation will now be permitted only through the four customs stations: Mundra Sea Port, Tuticorin Sea Port, Nhava Sheva Sea Port, and ICD Tughlakabad.

Earlier, in an April 5 notification, the government had allowed the export of sugar and other essential commodities like egg, potatoes, onions, rice, wheat flour, dal, stone aggregate, and river sand to the Maldives during 2024-25 under the bilateral trade agreement between the two governments. As per the notification, the government allowed the export of 64,494 tonnes of sugar.

“India remains strongly committed to supporting human-centric development in the Maldives, as part of its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy,” the Indian High Commission in the Maldives said earlier this month
Bilateral ties between India and the Maldives have nosedived since President Mohamed Muizzu assumed office in November 2023, as he criticized New Delhi during and after the presidential polls and led an “India Out” campaign at the behest of anti-India lobby.

Realizing that his political rhetoric was far off from economic realities, however, the Muizzu regime is now trying to regain India’s trust. Under popular and opposition pressure to restore normal ties with India, his officials are making ‘politically correct’ noises even as his government is trying to balance the loss by moving closer to countries like Turkey, the UAE, and Thailand—besides, of course, China—to diminish dependence on India.

Amid these uncertainties, the Maldives is trying to hold roadshows across key cities in India to woo its tourists back, as they form the island nation’s chief revenue resource in the tourism sector.

As the number of Indian tourists to the Maldives continued to decline since January 2024, the Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) held discussions with India’s High Commissioner on enhancing travel and tourism cooperation between the two countries.


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