A Memorandum of Understanding was signed Monday for China’s State Administration for Market Regulation to provide technical assistance to the Maldives economic development ministry.
Chinese experts would help identify and resolve problems in the business environment and provide assistance with “market regulation, consumer protection, and challenges facing small and medium-sized enterprises,” Economic Development Minister Fayyaz Ismail told the press after the signing ceremony at Hotel Jen.
The Maldives could benefit from China’s experience in adhering to international best practices, he added.
SAMR Minister Zhang Mao signed the MoU on behalf of the Chinese authority.
Workshops and conferences are due to take place to implement the cooperation agreement.
The MoU signals continuing cooperation under the new Maldives government, which came to power after criticising the mounting debt owed to China for financing large-scale infrastructure projects during former president Abdulla Yameen’s administration.
In the wake of Yameen’s heavy defeat in September’s polls, China welcomed the election of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih even as its foreign ministry spokesman criticised former president Mohamed Nasheed’s repeated accusations of land-grabbing and dragging the Maldives into a debt trap.
In late April, Chinese ambassador Zhang Lizhong defended the financing provided under the Belt and Road Initiative. The Maldives would not face difficulty in repayment as the loans were provided for feasible or revenue-generating projects, he contended.
China was open to renegotiating the debt with the new administration, he told the local press. Discussions are due to take place during Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid’s upcoming visit to Beijing in June.
Earlier this month, the Chinese embassy in Malé announced plans to build a desalination plant in the capital along with micro-grid desalination plants on five other islands.
Four projects are ongoing with Chinese assistance, including maintenance of the Sinamalé bridge, the Hiya social housing project, and the expansion of the Velana International Airport.