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Parliamentary questions
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7 November 2019
Answer given by Ms Malmström on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: E-002768/2019

The European Union (EU) is an important export market for the Maldives. Currently, more than 25% of the Maldives exports are coming to the EU. These exports are mostly fish products. With respect to tariffs on imported tuna, the EU is bound by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. Under these terms, the EU may not autonomously apply conditions to the Maldives, which would discriminate against other WTO members. Preferential duty-rates could be agreed only if the EU and the Maldives entered into a free trade agreement (FTA) covered under Article XXIV of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

On the basis of the information available to the Commission, the interest of the Maldives would at present rather focus on the elimination of tariffs for their fisheries’ imports into the EU, and not on negotiating a full-fledged FTA.

Moreover, the EU considers new FTAs only when certain economic, social and environmental conditions are met by its trading partner(s), for instance every new FTA would have a dedicated chapter with legally binding provisions on sustainable development.

As communicated to the Maldives in bilateral contacts, the Commission remains open to continued dialogue on how to further improve trade and investment between the EU and the Maldives. The European Union counts on the Maldives to make concrete progress on matters including the country’s judicial reform, the fight against corruption and advancing human rights, as a basis for enhanced trade cooperation. The EU and the Maldives should also continue cooperation in combatting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing as part of the WTO reform as well as at the United Nations on climate change.

Last updated: 7 November 2019Legal notice