Maldives country brief
Maldives is a likeminded country in the Indian Ocean with a shared commitment to a stable, secure and resilient Indo-Pacific region. Australia and Maldives established bilateral relations in 1974. In February 2022, Australia announced it would open a High Commission in Malé.
High-level visits and meetings
Recent bilateral visits and meetings include:
- in November 2022, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Tim Watts MP, met with Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ahmed Khaleel, in Dhaka at the 22nd meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Council of Ministers meeting
- in October 2021, then Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment the Hon Dan Tehan MP, met with Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ahmed Khaleel and Ministers of State for Economic Development Neeza Imad and Mohamed Iaad Hameed. Minister Tehan also had a phone call with Speaker Nasheed
- in July 2021, then Minister for the Environment the Hon Sussan Ley MP met with Maldives’ Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Technology and Presidential Special Envoy on Climate Change
- in May 2021, then Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator the Hon Marise Payne met with Foreign Secretary Abdul Ghafoor Mohamed in Maldives
- in April 2021, then Minister Tehan met ministerial counterparts in Maldives.
Australia and Maldives share interests in maritime security, trade, combatting transnational crime and collaboration on the oceans and environment. Australia and Maldives continue to engage on shared interests, including human rights, terrorism and building democratic institutions. Australia supports Maldives to continue its democratic agenda, including by enhancing cooperation with multilateral, Commonwealth and regional institutions.
Bilateral trade has remained steady over the past decade. Two-way goods and services trade was $75 million in 2021, of which $73.8 million was Australian exports. The bulk of bilateral merchandise trade is Australian food and beverage exports to the Maldivian tourism industry. Australia was Maldives' 12th largest source of imports in 2021. There were 135 Maldivian students studying in Australia in 2021. Australia’s education related travel exports to Maldives were worth $7 million in 2021.
Australia’s development cooperation with Maldives is delivered primarily through capacity building partnerships, including by offering direct educational opportunities, sharing Australian expertise in sustainable environmental resource management, and working through UN partners to help strengthen civil society and inclusive governance.
The 2022-23 budget estimate for Australian Official Development Assistance to Maldives is $2.8 million.
Eight long term Australia Awards were funded in 2022-23 for scholars focused on economic development, education, environmental management and health leadership. To date, 701 Maldivians have completed Australian Government funded studies in Australia. Of these, 612 were under Australia Awards, 80 Australia Award Fellowships and nine on Endeavour Awards.
Australia has contributed $3.8 million over ten years (2013 - 2023) to the United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP) Integrated Governance Programme in Maldives. Over three phases, the programme has worked directly with Government and non-Government partners to strengthen transparency and accountability of public institutions, promote equitable access to justice and respect for human rights, support women’s participation in decision-making and strengthen civil society. Australia has also worked with the Maldives Prosecutor General’s office to strengthen data management and evidence-based decision making the criminal justice system.
Through the CSIRO, Australia works with the Maldives Marine Research Institute to train and empower local communities on methods for coral larval restoration techniques, helping safeguard Maldives’ vital marine resources. Australia contributed $2 million to the World Bank implemented Climate Change Trust Fund in Maldives (2013 - 2018), which assisted more than 4,000 households through enhanced tourism, livelihood opportunities and ecosystem conservation.
Further information on development cooperation in Maldives.