The huge potential to increase Chinese investments in Cyprus has been pointed out by Secretary of the Cyprus-China Business Association (CyChiba) Andis Nathalael, who has noted the rapid rise of direct investments from China in Cyprus in 2010-2011, when the relevant index skyrocketed from 1.36 million US dollars to 90.0 million.
What is needed, Nathanael told CNA in an interview, is to set up a coordinating team of CEOs to work towards achieving specific aims in promoting the opportunities Cyprus has to offer, especially to Chinese investors.
In the meantime, this is being done albeit with limited resources by CyChiba, which has been set up at the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) and which, in cooperation with the Ministry of Commerce and other organisations, as well as the Embassy of China in Nicosia, launched an effort a few years ago to attract investments from China.
In this context, CyChiba will be organising two seminars in China, on October 27 in Beijing and on November 2 in Shanghai, to be addressed by Minister of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Giorgos Lakkotrypis.
The Association has also taken an initiative to establish a framework for issuing property certificates, which will be accompanied by reports on the specific asset to be purchased, in order to provide better transparency and safeguard the interests of the investors.
"What we want is 0.1% of the total of Chinese investments abroad, and this will be more than enough for Cyprus," Nathanael said.
Nathanael explained that in 2011 China made direct investments abroad worth 75 billion US dollars and more than 13,500 Chinese enterprises created 18,000 businesses abroad, with an investment of about 20 billion US dollars in assets alone, of which up to 100 million dollars were in Cyprus.
"The biggest investment by the Chinese in Cyprus was the cement plant in Vassiliko, which they built," Nathanael said.
He added that CyChiba is the largest and maybe the only association in Cyprus dealing continuously and thoroughly with developing commercial and financial relations between Cyprus and China, it belongs to the CCCI and fully cooperates with the Chinese Embassy.
"We have 220 members and we organise several seminars in Cyprus, where we bring Chinese speakers, and seminars in China to promote Cyprus as a business centre," he said.
Replying to questions, Nathanael noted that "Cypriot products for export are very restricted," and that investments would mainly focus on immovable property, such as golf courses and hotels.
"The messages are encouraging but will not suddenly pull Cyprus out of the financial crisis," he said, pointing out that another issue was the fact that "we are not known in China." Nathanael explained that an interest in investments from China only began three or four years ago.
Regarding efforts to attract tourism from China, Nathanael said this was not one of the issues CyChiba had braced, since it belonged to another sector, noting however that the Association had its own views on the issue.
"Those who study Chinese mentality know that Chinese tourism never ever develops in countries that do not have a Chinatown," he said, adding that "one must be created in Cyprus, apart from direct flights and other measures in order to have arrivals from China."
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