Sri Lanka, Maldives trade shifting to services: envoy

Aug 13, 2009 (LBO) – The Maldives is introducing laws to attract foreign investors such as those from Sri Lanka with whom the archipelago’s trade is growing and shifting towards services, the Maldivian envoy to Colombo said. High commissioner Ali Hassen Didi said the two countries have had close trade links for decades and shared entrepreneurship, with Sri Lankan professionals and businessmen making a key contribution to the Maldivian economy.

The new government elected in November 2008 was streamlining the Maldives trade and commercial laws to promote greater business growth.

“We’re now drafting bills to make it more comfortable and attractive for foreign investors to come with their money,” Didi told a news conference held to announce the Maldives international boat show in October.

“The new government is looking at the service industry, marine research, and setting up industrial zones.

“We’re giving out land for boat builders to come in.”

The Maldives was trying to diversify its economy but given the nature of the country – an archipelago of 1,190 islands, almost 200 of them inhabited – it would always be dominated by tourism and fishing.

“It is a risk to have tourism as the main bread wi