The Maldives is increasingly relying upon imports. This is due to a lack of agricultural production and fossil fuel resources, a growing population and household incomes, and the high influx of tourists since the 1970s who demand certain foodstuffs and luxuries. In 1977, imports totalled $11.1 million, whereas by 1998 they had boomed to $354 million. The Maldives receives its imports from a wide range of countries. The European Union countries supplied $65 million in 1998, of which the 2 largest partners, the UK and the Netherlands, provided $18.5 million and $12.5 million, respectively. In the same year, Singapore
|Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Maldives|
|SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.|
supplied $40.9 million in imports, India $39.3 million, Malaysia $34.9 million, Sri Lanka $30.9 million, the United Arab Emirates $23.8 million, Japan $22.3 million, and the United States $19.1 million.
Maldivian exports totalled $76.2 million in 1998— a considerable growth from a 1977 level of $4.8 million. The main destination was the EU countries, which consumed $20.1 million. The UK was the primary partner here and purchased $14.7 million in Maldivian exports, Germany imported $5.1 million. Exports to the United States totalled $15.7 million, nearby Sri Lanka $13.1 million, Japan $10.9 million, and Thailand $9.8 million.
The Republic of Maldives is an active member of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC), whose other members are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Of these countries, the Maldives can boast the second highest GDP growth in the 1990s and the highest level of average individual incomes.