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Cyprus and China could accelerate their economic and business ties

21 March, 2014

Conference explores vast potential in Cyprus-China business ties
 
Cyprus and China could accelerate their economic and business ties, a conference organized by Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Cyprus-China Business Association has heard.

The Cyprus Minister of Interior Socratis Hasikos and the Deputy Chief of the Chinese Diplomatic Mission to Cyprus Fei Shengchao praised bilateral relations, placing special emphasis on tourism.

"The great nation of the People`s Republic of China is a country of special interest to Cyprus which we consider a close partner in Asia," said Hasikos addressing the conference that posed the question whether Cyprus could become the second home for Chinese investors.

Praising the excellent political relations between the two countries, Hasikos said looking into the future one cannot but recognize that there are amble opportunities for the enhancement and promotion of relations between the two sides.

"This is why we wish to attract the interest of the Chinese people and encourage them to consider Cyprus as their second home," he said.

Furthermore, speaking to the press after the conference, Hasikos highlighted the opportunities in tourism, noting that Cyprus attracts only 3,000 Chinese tourists from the 97 million Chinese tourists last year.

"We should give special emphasis on how we could attract a bigger number of Chinese tourists," Hasikos said, adding there is huge potential in that field.

On his part, Fei commended the performance of the Cypriot economy in reversing economic contraction and restoring growth. Severely hit by the financial crisis, Cyprus agreed on a €10 billion financial assistance package with the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF on March 2013 that averted the collapse of its oversized banking sector.

"Despite the tremendous challenges that this country still faces, there is now more confidence in the economy," he said citing the return of foreign home-buyers to the island many of whom are from China.

"More and more once hesitant home-buyers are coming back and cast a vote of confidence with their cheques and real money," the Chinese diplomat went on to say, adding there is "a huge and strong Chinese interest in investing in almost every sector in this country."

Fei also noted that Cyprus and China should build on there excellent political and historic relations to the benefit of businesses and people of our two countries.

"There is a lot to do together. Home-buying may just be a starter in a very rich menu," he said.

Furthermore, Fei noted the vast potential for increased tourism from China, saying that out of the 97 million Chinese tourists in 2013, Cyprus attracted only 3.000.

"I think this also shows the vast potential that we can tap in the future, as we know that first-time tourists, second-time possible home buyers and third-time possible traders and investors," he concluded.

Marios Tsiakkis Secretary General of the CCI also highlighted the "tremendous progress" shown by Cyprus in meeting the targets set out by the adjustment programme agreed with the Troika, namely the significant reduction in public spending, the recapitalisation of the island`s banking system, noting that all internal capital controls imposed since the bailout will be soon lifted.

"With all the above in mind Cyprus remains an attractive regional business centre offering all the advantages that foreign companies are looking for in order to use Cyprus as their base for conducting their international activities," he said, adding that at the same time Cyprus offers attractive investment opportunities and prospects in the areas of energy, tourism, real estate health and educations and we urge our Chinese counterparts to further examine these opportunities.

President of the Cyprus - Chinese Association, Panicos Kaouris, said Cyprus has already become the second home for 1,000 Chinese investors, noting however that given China`s size these numbers are only a drop in the ocean.

"Bearing in mind the small size of our island and our economy we only need a few more such drops in order to have a substantial contribution to our economic growth," he noted.

Kaouris pointed out that Cyprus "must listen and listen very carefully and well what the Chinese investors` needs are and ensure that the necessary actions in order not only to meet them but to surpass them."