India has exempted exports of essential commodities to the Maldives from any form of domestic restrictions.
“Export of potatoes, onion, rice, wheat flour, sugar, dal and eggs has been permitted to Maldives under bilateral trade agreement between India and Maldives during the period 2019-20 with effect from April,” reads an official notification issued by India’s directorate general of foreign trade on Tuesday.
According to Indian media reports, the fixed quantity for potatoes, onion, rice, wheat flour, sugar, dal and eggs approved for the Maldives is significantly higher than the previous fiscal year.
Bilateral trade between India and Maldives increased to US$222.68 million in the 2017-18 fiscal year, up from US$206.97 million during the previous fiscal period.
Historically close Indo-Maldives ties were strained under the pro-China former administration. President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s maiden visit weeks after assuming office last November was hailed as the beginning of a “new era” of relations.
In February, India quadrupled its annual aid to the Maldives with US$368 million (MVR5.7 billion) allocated in the country’s 2019 budget, representing a 460 percent increase from the US$77.4 million last year.
Allocations to other South Asian neighbours Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka remained the same with a slight increase in aid allocated for Nepal, according to media reports.
The Maldives is largely dependent on India for construction material. In 2013, several harbour projects were suspended after India revoked the special quota in the wake of the eviction of Indian infrastructure giant GMR. The restrictions were lifted after former president Abdulla Yameen assumed power in November 2013, ending a period of prolonged political turmoil.