Minister of Foreign Affairs Moosa Zameer has called on the European Union (EU) to reduce duties levied on fish exports to Europe to assist Maldives in its efforts to diversify its economy by creating equal opportunities for trade and investment. Speaking at the EU Indo-Pacific Ministerial Forum in Brussels, Belgium, Minister Zameer highlighted challenges faced by small island nations like Maldives such as climate change and economic challenges.

The Minister said that President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu’s administration has initiated a number of projects to diversify the country’s economy from its dependence on tourism.

The Minister said the assistance of EU countries is needed to maintain stability in the Indian Ocean region, but the most important thing is to prioritize self-reliance.

“We can only fulfill our part if we have the capacity for it,” Minister Zameer said. For that, countries like the Maldives need equal opportunities for business and investment in the international arena, he said.

“It is crucial that we first eliminate the disproportionate taxes imposed on our only exports – our sustainable tuna – by the European Union. This will help us diversify the economy and build our own resilience,” Minister Zameer said. With Maldives graduating as a middle-income country in 2013, EU countries, including the UK, imposed a 24 percent duty fee. As a result, the previous governments have also discussed reducing the taxes levied on fisheries exports due to the increase in the price of fish exported from Maldives to Europe.

In December last year, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had also indicated a positive outcome from the discussions held to reduce taxes.