Ways for deepening pragmatic cooperation in all areas within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative were discussed during a seminar entitled Chinese One Belt One Road Initiative and Cyprus’ role as a stepping stone into the Region, that took place on Tuesday in Nicosia and was attended by the Chinese Ambassador, the Minister of Education of Cyprus, other officials and prominent businessmen from China and Cyprus.
The seminar was organized in the Chinese Embassy by the Economic and Commercial Counsellor’s Office of the Chinese Embassy, the Cyprus � China Business Association and the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Addressing the seminar, Ambassador of China Huang Xingyuan said that there is huge potential for Cyprus and China to strengthen coordination of development plans and share common interests under the Initiative.
‘Both Chinese products and Cypriot products have their distinctive features, therefore both sides should take the opportunity of implementing preferential policies to achieve the target of the current trade volume being doubled and exceeding USD 1 billion within the next two years, he said.
He added that people to people exchanges should be strengthened and expressed hope that direct flights connecting the two countries can be soon realized.
In his speech, Minister of Education and Culture Costas Kadis, spoke about his participation in the Belt and Road Forum for Cooperation, held in China in May, expressing belief that cooperation in the Education and Culture areas can spark innovation and strengthen the bonds between people.
He also said that during his visit there he signed with China an agreement of the “Mutual Recognition Agreement for Higher Education Titles” noting that this Agreement was actually the contribution of Cyprus and China together in the People to People connectivity concept, since the Agreement opens up new pathways in Cyprus�China cooperation, thus promoting connectivity of universities, researchers, academic personnel and students, from our two countries.
Concluding, he said that he extended an invitation to the Minister of Education of China to head a delegation visiting Cyprus later this year.
Taking the floor, Marios Tsiakkis, Secretary General of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry
said that lying at the crossroads of Africa. Asia and Europe, as well as being a member of the European Union, Cyprus is a key transit island and can play an important role in successfully promoting the aims and values of the Silk Maritime Road.
He referred to Cyprus’ shipping registry, which is one of the largest in the world, saying that vessels flying the Cypriot flag are connecting Asia and Europe, while referring to China’s experience in the construction and operation of ports he said that “we see huge prospects in the area of constructing industrial areas as well as distribution centers in Cyprus, close to ports, to serve as regional logistic enters for the supply of goods in the nearby markets”.
Tsiakkis said that Chinese investors and businesses can use Cyprus as the ideal headquartering gateway for the region and pointed out that Cyprus offers great opportunities to Chinese investors in the areas of luxury real estates, hotels and tourist related infrastructure projects, the energy sector, health and education, research and innovation.
“Another area where there are significant prospects is tourism. We need to take all the necessary steps to boost touristic movement between the two countries by facilitating the issuing of visas and by improving the air connectivity. We are confident that Cobalt will be instrumental in this direction” he concluded.
Addressing the event, keynote speaker Wang Yaping, who is the Economic and Commercial Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy, spoke about the projects launched jointly by Cyprus and China in the air and sea sectors, and said that currently China is Cyprus’ seventh largest trading partner. Pointing out that in 2015/16 trade volume declined to only USD 640 million from 1.3 billion of the peak times, he said that as the Cypriot economy is recovering in an even faster pace, trade between the two countries will stabilize and move back on track of growth.
Referring to the prospects for economic and trade cooperation, he said that Cyprus has five advantages, its geographical advantage, its EU membership, its social development advantages, economic advantages and its traditionally good political relations with China.
The Chinese official said that both sides should actively support enterprises to invest in key sectors, such as energy, electricity, telecommunications, shipping, ports, aviation, satellite, banking, tourism etc, while efforts should be made so that bilateral trade volume can return to growth, enhance people to people exchanges.
We should vigorously support the development of e-commerce and other new business models, actively promote the export of Cyprus’ safe and high quality agricultural products as olive oil and wine and pay attention to early signing of the government protocol for dairy products to China so that Hallumi cheese can be served to Chinese customers, he said.
In his speech, President of the Cyprus � China Business Association, Panicos Kaouris said that Cyprus
was the only EU country to participate at the highest level in the inaugural conference of One Belt � One Road in China in 2015 when Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades held a meeting with the Chinese President, followed by Cyprus’, participation in the Belt � Road Forum in Beijing in May 2017 and the signing of an Agreement for the Mutual Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications.
He also said that Cyprus may be a small country but it can potentially play an important role in China’s outbound investment plans.
‘It is strategically located through the various routes of the One-Belt One -Road initiative and provides the ideal platform for investments in the Region including Cyprus itself which will provide a very welcoming, accommodating and experienced environment for the discerning Chinese Investor he pointed out.
Kaouris said that there are investment and infrastructure opportunities in the Cyprus Oil & Gas sector, Shipping Opportunities among many others. He also spoke about the prospects in tourism and e-commerce.
The event was also addressed by the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Cyprus News Agency, Larkos Larkou, who said that Cyprus should be a protagonist, a factor of open synergies with China in a more active way. He also spoke about CNA’s activities saying that CNA has signed agreements with 40 international and national news agencies, including Chinese XINHUA.
‘CNA and XINHUA are cooperating in a very friendly and professional frame’ he said, adding that there is a window of opportunity to expand this cooperation.
Concluding, he said that CNA will take the conclusion of this seminar into account so as to form a new, very specific initiative in collaboration with XINHUA, so as to enhance the people-to-people bonds.
Source: Cyprus News Agency