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Commerce Minister says Cyprus can be a base for italian businesses
2004-11-19 09:47:16

by Emilia Christofi

Rome, 19 Nov (CNA) -- Cyprus Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister George Lillikas stressed the possibilities for Cyprus to become the base for Italian businesses to expand their activities in the Middle East.

Lillikas was speaking during a meeting here yesterday with Italy's Foreign Trade Department Deputy Minister Adolfo Urso.

Andreas Sofocleous, senior officer at the Commerce Department of the Cypriot Ministry, who also attended the meeting, told CNA the Minister underlined that Cyprus' geographic position is conducive for transit commerce, noting that Italian products can reach Middle East and Arab countries' markets through Cyprus.

During the meeting, which was a continuation of last April's talks in Cyprus with Urso, the two sides expressed their desire to further strengthen economic and commercial exchanges between the two countries.

The Minister of Commerce, Sofocleous said, promoted Cyprus' role as a bridge for the EU for countries in the eastern Mediterranean, and presented the possibilities, which Cyprus offers as a basis for Italian businesses to expand their activities in the Middle East and Cyprus.

He also said Cyprus is preparing a strategic plan to promote this role and referred to the tax advantages, which Cyprus offers to Italian companies to establish offices on the island. He also underlined that among the ministry's goals is to promote high technology, noting that Cyprus has an agreement with Harvard University on the issue.

The Minister also met Italian business people who expressed interest for exports to Cyprus and participation in common EU-funded projects with Cypriot business people.

They also examined a project prepared by the Institute of Technology on waste, which will be tabled on 8 December before the EU for approval.

Lillikas further referred to Cyprus' proposal to set up a permanent secretariat to promote EU interests in Cyprus and the Mediterranean on common projects and investments and a uniform policy on the movement of goods and services, Sofocleous said.

Urso said Italy will support the proposal at the EU, when it is submitted.

He also expressed interest in the high technology project, adding that Italy maintains a similar centre in Sicily and the two centres could possibly cooperate.

Urso announced that an Italian delegation will visit Cyprus early next year to present Italy's advantages to Cypriot businesses and present the benefits of cooperation between the two countries.

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