* Anastasiades returns with bagful of goodies *
President Nicos Anastasiades returned home last night satisfied from a three-day official visit to Qatar where several bilateral agreements were signed and investment prospects discussed, but warned that “we should keep our feet on the ground”.
If we are convincing, we will reap the benefits, he pointed out.
In statements before leaving Doha, Anastasiades said that he considered the visit as “one of the most important but also very productive visits” with regard to the talks and the business forum which took place earlier on Tuesday.
He spoke of the significance of the meetings he had with major investment funds, such as the Qatar Investment Authority, which showed interest, provided of course, that the possible investments will be to the benefit of both sides.
“What matters is the determination to establish an even better connection between Cyprus and Qatar both at the political and at the business activities level,” he said.
According to Anastasiades, the Emir of Qatar has instructed delegations from various funds and bodies to visit Cyprus within the next few weeks with regard to possible interesting projects for investment.
“If we manage to be persuasive, then we will benefit from it,” he said.
Sources suggested that the Qatari missions will be lokking at a total of nine areas of activity and development projects, including the semi-government Electricity Authority of Cyprus and the telecoms giant Cyta, both of which are expected to partially or fully privatised in accordance with public sector reforms. The Ports Authoruity of Cyprus could also prove to be a viable investment.
Anastasiades headed a high-level delegation that included the Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, Energy and Tourism Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, and Agriculture’s Nicos Kouyialis, all of whom signed bilateral cooperation agreements with their Qatari counterparts.
Accompanying the delegation were officials from the Cyprus Investment Pormotion Agency, the KEVE chamber of commerce and industry and a 80-strong trade mission headed by the chairman of the Cyprus-Qatar Business Association Marios Lanitis. Cybarco is one of the long-established Cypriot companies in Qatar that has undertaken major development projects in the Gulf state and was a contributing factor in making this visit a success.
Speaking at the business forum in Doha, Anastasiades outlined the government’s efforts towards recovery while highlighting the major advantages Cyprus has as an investment destination with significant potential in various sectors. He added that the discovery of hydrocarbon deposits in the offshore Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) also opened up prospects for investments in the energy sector.
“Despite the difficulties which we are facing due to the ongoing economic recession, we can achieve a miracle,” he said.
From the monment he arrived, President Anastasiades was given a red-carpet treatment throughout the three days, with his host, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani discussing ways to further strengthen bilateral relations.
Cooperation protocols and memoranda of understanding were signed in the areas of education, legal, energy, sea water desalination and the treatment of wastewater for re-use.
Areas of interest for investment alslo include energy networks and infrastructure, oil & gas exploration and production, medical centres, aviation, marinas and golf courses.
The Cypriot delegation raised the prospect of cooperation with Qatar Airways, especially after the failure of Cyprus Airways to sell its second slot at Heathrow to the Gulf carrier at an ionitial cost of $20 mln (EUR 14 mln). Other areas of cooperation include the creation of a port and fishing industry facility at Zygi,
Discussion with the property investor Qatari Diar also seem to have resumed after negotiations insitiated by the previous administration failed for the prospective joint venture to develop a government-owned plot opposite the Hilton Hotel in Nicosia to build a luxury business and leisure complex.
Meanwhile, Anastasiades told the business forum in Doha that his government aspires to lift capital controls within the next months.
“The capital controls imposed on the Cyprus banking system are to be completely lifted in the near future, in the coming months, and we are now witnessing increased inflows from foreign residents”, he said.
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