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27th Cyprus International Fair opens
2002-05-24 17:20:39

Nicosia, May 24 (CNA) -- In its effort to establish Cyprus' role as a respectable business centre, the Cyprus government will intensify its efforts for reconstruction in the interest of the economic sectors where the country has comparative advantages, which include tourism, international business activities, banking and consulting services, President Glafcos Clerides said here today.

Opening the 27th Cyprus International Fair, Clerides expressed the need for radical changes in Cyprus' economic structure, noting that "in the context of promoting these structural changes, the government is intensifying its effort to inform foreign investors with a view to attracting foreign capital into technologically advanced and innovative fields."

In his address at the ceremony, Cyprus Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Nicos Rolandis said that according to international statistics, Cyprus has a much higher rate of development than the average in the European Union and internationally.

A total of 332 exhibitors participate in this year's International Fair, which hosts the official state participations of Egypt, France, Greece, the US, Japan, Iran, Italy, Korea, South Africa, Russia, Syria, and the Czech Republic.

Another 20 foreign countries are represented in the Fair through their Cypriot agents and representatives, while the Greek Ministry of Culture will present projects related to the 2004 Olympic Games. The domestically produced products and overall business activity are an important sector of the Fair, as the Cyprus industry is dynamically presented with a rich variety of exhibits.|

Clerides said that "the institution of the Cyprus International Fair constitutes a significant event with favourable economic, social and political consequences for the country."

He noted that "in spite of the unfavourable international climate, the development of our economy is expected to reach this year about 4%, which is considered a satisfactory record," since this percentage is more than double of that of the countries of the European Union.

At the same time, conditions of internal and external economic stability prevail, Clerides said, noting that inflation was confined to about 2% and fulfils the Maastricht criteria.

Unemployment with a percentage of around 3% continues to be at a low level in contrast to what is happening in the EU countries, where it is around 8%. Public deficit is confined to less than 3% of the Gross Domestic Product, he added.

"However the fact that the situation of our economy continues to be satisfactory, should not relax our vigilance. It should not distract us either from the necessity to take measures for qualitative upgrading of its structure, for expanding its productive base and for the consolidation of conditions of stability. We should not forget that our economy is today facing the challenge of our accession to the EU as well as its adjustment to the new conditions," Clerides said.

He stressed the government would intensity its efforts for reconstruction in the interest of the sectors where Cyprus has comparative advantages, noting that "the cooperation of all productive sectors is needed for the achievement of this target" and that "a spirit of prudent management, which will correspond to the present needs of our economy as well as to the social and political conditions of Cyprus, should also be demonstrated by all."

"Besides the need to enhance economic stability, we are also facing the need for radical changes in the structure of our economy," Cyprus President said, noting that "in the context of promoting these structural changes, the government is intensifying its effort to inform foreign investors with a view to attracting foreign capital into technologically advanced and innovative fields."

"At the same time, we are promoting in various ways those economic areas in which our country has a comparative advantage. These areas include tourism, international business activities, banking and consulting services. Our aim is for Cyprus to establish the role of a respectable business centre," he added.

He also reaffirmed the government's effort to boost exports, noting that the introduction of the country's agricultural and industrial products into international markets will be greatly facilitated by Cyprus' accession to the European Union.

Clerides expressed optimism that Cyprus will overcome any problems it faces in the exports sector "with the appropriate measures taken at all levels, with the cooperation and mutual understanding between the social partners, with the dynamism and flexibility of our entrepreneurs and an ongoing effort for improvement of the competitiveness of our products, especially by investing into the new technology."

Rolandis said that in the past four years there has been an increase in tourist arrivals by 29,2%, but "the most important thing is that we have had an increase in the income arising from tourism by 51,5%".

He also warned that "there must be a greater effort to keep costs and prices under control in order for our tourism to remain competitive."

Regarding commercial exchanges, he said that during the past four years "there has been a continuous upward trend in our commercial exchanges which increased from 2,54 billion pounds in 1997 to 3,16 billion pounds in 2001, that is an increase of 24,3%".

Rolandis said that the years 2002 and 2003 are the most important after the independence of Cyprus, in 1960, as the President, the government and the House of Representatives are handling the two issues that will mark Cyprus forever, that is the resolution of the Cyprus problem and accession to the European Union.

"We need a lot of prudence, vision and the correct decisions to achieve the above goals, to get rid of the occupation and have better days in Cyprus," he added.

Chairman of the Cyprus State Fair Authority Jacovos Dimitriou said that the Authority serves the Cyprus economy and its activities are fully aligned with Cyprus' future course, with the liberalisation and globalisation acts of international trade and with the abolishment of all borders and physical obstacles in order to broaden its horizons to global trade.

He also noted that the Authority looks forward to the continuation of the post- accession period with a firm orientation towards European integration with a significant role in the broader region.

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