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Trade Profile

Foreign Trade in Figures

The Maldives, which is composed of 1,200 islands, depends heavily on trade. International exchanges represent 155% of GDP (World Bank, 2016). The state budget relies primarily on revenues from import duties. Therefore, tariffs are relatively high (the average applied tariff rate is 21.1%). However, as part of its trade policy, the Government has removed quotas for the majority of products, and customs procedures have been simplified (obtaining an import licence is almost automatic). Moreover, although the State Trading Organisation (STO) remains the country's largest importer, the Government is seeking to include more private partners.
The country possesses few raw materials, and, as such, relies heavily on imported oil and finished products. As a result, the Maldives imports much more than it exports, which creates a structural trade deficit.
In 2017, the Maldives exported USD 189 million (+49%) and imported USD 2.1 billion (+8.8%), resulting in a negative trade balance of USD 1.9 billion, 6% more than the previous year.
Fish products account for almost the entirety of Maldivian exports, while imports are led by hydrocarbons, vehicles, furniture and water.
Thailand was the major destination for exports (42.8%), followed by the EU (25.7%) and Sri Lanka (8.7%). For what concerns imports, the UAE was the major country of origin (17.1%) followed by India (13.5) and Singapore (13.3%).

Foreign Trade Indicators 20122013201420152016
Imports of Goods (million USD) 1,5541,7331,9931,8702,100
Exports of Goods (million USD) 314331301240210
Imports of Services (million USD) 567692791860998
Exports of Services (million USD) 2,1732,5863,0203,0402,873
Trade Balance (million USD) -1,261-1,372-1,660-1,655-1,839
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 160162164148155
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 7473756976
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 8689907880

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank - Latest available data.

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
Thailand 34.4%
Sri Lanka 10.2%
United States 8.9%
France 8.8%
Germany 8.7%
Ireland 4.9%
Italy 4.9%
United Kingdom 4.1%
Switzerland 3.0%
Japan 2.1%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
United Arab Emirates 15.7%
Singapore 14.3%
China 13.4%
India 13.0%
Sri Lanka 6.3%
Malaysia 5.7%
Thailand 4.7%
Germany 2.4%
Hong Kong 2.2%
Indonesia 2.2%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data


Main Products

0.1 bn USD of products exported in 2016
Frozen fish (excl. fish fillets and other fish meat of heading 0304) 33.8%
Fish, fresh or chilled (excl. fish fillets and other fish meat of heading 0304) 23.4%
Fish fillets and other fish meat, whether or not minced, fresh, chilled or frozen 22.3%
Prepared or preserved fish; caviar and caviar substitutes prepared from fish eggs 11.1%
Fish, fit for human consumption, dried, salted or in brine; smoked fish, fit for human consumption, whether or not cooked before or during the smoking process; flours, meals and pellets of fish, fit for human consumption 6.5%
Live fish 0.8%
Ferrous waste and scrap; remelting scrap ingots of iron or steel (excl. slag, scale and other waste from the production of iron or steel; radioactive waste and scrap; fragments of pigs, blocks or other primary forms of pig iron or spiegeleisen) 0.6%
Waste and scrap, of copper (excl. ingots or other similar unwrought shapes, of remelted copper waste and scrap, ashes and residues containing copper, and waste and scrap of primary cells, primary batteries and electric accumulators) 0.4%
Flours, meals and pellets, of meat or meat offal, of fish or of crustaceans, molluscs or other aquatic invertebrates, unfit for human consumption; greaves 0.4%
Molluscs, fit for human consumption, whether in shell or not, live, fresh, chilled, frozen, dried, salted or in brine, incl. aquatic invertebrates (other than crustaceans and molluscs); flours, meals and pellets of aquatic invertebrates other than crustaceans, fit for human consumption 0.3%
2.1 bn USD of products imported in 2016
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 11.2%
Furniture and parts thereof, n.e.s. (excl. seats and medical, surgical, dental or veterinary furniture) 1.9%
Parts of aircraft and spacecraft of heading 8801 or 8802, n.e.s. 1.8%
Wood sawn or chipped lengthwise, sliced or barked, whether or not planed, sanded or end-jointed, of a thickness of > 6 mm 1.8%
Granite, porphyry, basalt, sandstone and other monumental or building stone, whether or not roughly trimmed or merely cut, by sawing or otherwise, into blocks or slabs of a square or rectangular shape (excl. in the form of granules, chippings or powder, or already with the characteristics of setts, curbstones and flagstones, and monumental or building stone of an apparent specific gravity of >= 2,5) 1.5%
Cement, incl. cement clinkers, whether or not coloured 1.3%
Insulated incl. enamelled or anodised wire, cable incl. coaxial cable and other insulated electric conductors, whether or not fitted with connectors; optical fibre cables, made-up of individually sheathed fibres, whether or not assembled with electric conductors or fitted with connectors 1.3%
Waters, incl. mineral waters and aerated waters, containing added sugar or other sweetening matter or flavoured, and other non-alcoholic beverages (excl. fruit or vegetable juices and milk) 1.2%
Meat and edible offal of fowls of the species gallus domesticus, ducks, geese, turkeys and guinea fowls, fresh, chilled or frozen 1.1%
Transmission apparatus for radio-telephony, radio-telegraphy, radio-broadcasting or television, whether or not incorporating reception apparatus or sound recording or reproducing apparatus; television cameras; still image video cameras and other video camera recorders; digital cameras 1.1%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data


Main Services

0.3 bn USD of services exported in 2015
Communications services
0.5 bn USD of services imported in 2015
Other business services
Communications services
Computer and information services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data


Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Main International Economic Cooperation
Member of South Asian Association for Regional Corporation (SAARC)
Useful Resources
The national customs website
National Organisation of Intellectual Property
You can contact the Intellectual Property Unit by Email.


Learn more about How to Export to The Maldives on, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

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Last Updates: June 2018