President Papadopoulos: We support business cooperation with Croatia
Zagreb, Nov 8 -- Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos, heading a multimember diplomatic and business delegation on a visit to Croatia, expressed on Wednesday ''the willingness of the government of Cyprus to give its full support and encouragement to any serious cooperation between Cypriot and Croatian companies.''
Addressing the Croatian-Cypriot Business Forum at the Croatian Chamber of Economy, President Papadopoulos assured that ''our policy is to create a stimulating environment and the necessary conditions for such cooperation to develop into successful business ventures.''
President Papadopoulos said the visit to Croatia ''underlines the importance that the Cypriot government attributes to further strengthening the excellent economic, political and trade relations between our countries.''
He noted that ''Cyprus has a dynamic and flexible economy and has proven its capacity to adjust to continuously changing conditions.''
Referring to figures, President Papadopoulos said the island's economy ''is based on the services sector that contributes about 76% to the Gross Domestic Product and is characterized by rapid growth, high per capita income, low unemployment of 3.8% and low inflation, in the order of 2.6%'' and that ''the projected growth for 2006 is 3.8%, which compares favorably with the EU average.''
''In 2005, the per capita income reached 19,000 euros, which in terms of purchasing power corresponds to 85% of the EU average,'' he added.
President Papadopoulos said ''foreign direct investment in Cyprus during 2005 exhibited a 50% increase as compared to the previous year and rose to 1.3 billion euros,'' noting that ''amongst other factors, a favorable environment for small and medium companies, a liberal investment policy that allows up to 100% foreign participation in most sectors of the economy, a low corporate tax of 10% and the numerous double tax treaties that Cyprus has signed, covering 40 countries, have established Cyprus as an international business centre.''
''Trade in goods and services has been the key to overcoming the challenges of a small domestic market. Exports of Cyprus products amounted to almost half a billion euros in 2005, while total imports amounted to around 5 billion euros. In 2005, re-exports from Cyprus reached 500 million euros, which proves the importance of Cyprus as a transit hub in the Mediterranean,'' he pointed out.
Referring to tourism, President Papadopoulos said it ''plays a vital role, as 2.3 million tourists visit Cyprus every year,'' and briefly mentioned the various projects aimed at further enriching the tourist product.
He also said that the manufacturing industry also plays an important role in the economy and referred to the new industrial development policy adopted by the government with special emphasis on the field of high technology.
President Papadopoulos said ''Croatian scientists are welcome to join the incubators in Cyprus'' and take advantage of the programs available.
''Joint ventures could be envisaged between Cypriot and Croatian companies, such as construction projects, an area where Cypriot companies excel worldwide. Re-exporting to neighboring countries with which Cyprus maintains historically excellent relations is another area of possible cooperation. Indeed, thanks to the strategic geographical location of Cyprus, Croatian companies can easily reach a market of 350 million citizens in the neighboring countries,'' the President pointed out.
The Forum was addressed by Croatian President Stjepan Mesic. The delegates were welcomed by President of the Croatian Chamber of Economy Nadan Vidosevic and President of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry Manthos Mavrommatis.
Mesic said that it is vital for Croatian entrepreneurs to realise the potential of cooperation with Cyprus and the broader region through Cyprus. He noted that there is potential and prospects for cooperation in many fields and noted that Cyprus can help Croatia in its accession course towards the EU.