Cyprus provides many opportunities for investment in all areas of the business spectrum and can help strengthen India’s economic and social relations with the European Union, said Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides on Friday.
Speaking at the Cyprus-India Business and Economic Forum in Limassol, Kasoulides noted that Cyprus is a strong voice within the European Union, on the importance and the need to significantly strengthen relations between the EU and India.
For his part, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmyan Jainshankar referred in particular to the breadth of relations between the two countries, as 2022 marked 60 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
He noted that the concept of large and small countries is outdated in modern times and that Cyprus, in relation to its size, is developing much greater investment activity in India.
The Indian FM recalled that in June 2021 India reclassified the Republic of Cyprus in category 1 of Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPI) in India, noting that Cyprus is the third non- Financial Action Task Force (FATF) country other than Mauritius and the UAE to be given this exception. He added that in December last year Invest India and Invest Cyprus signed an MoU with the intention of enhancing their mutual investments activities and promoting overall their business cooperation.
Turning on bilateral trade, Jaishankar said that trade flows have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with trade between the two countries last year amounting to $214 million.
“I know we have had higher numbers before and I am very confident we could do that again,” he said, noting that Cyprus is today the tenth largest FDI investor in India with accumulated investment of almost 12 billion dollars during the last 20 years.
The Indian FM also noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of stronger economic cooperation, in the health and pharmaceutical sectors, and noted that pharmaceuticals, iron and steel ceramic products, electrical machinery are some of the major items of export from India to Cyprus.
“If one looks at the basket of our trade clearly there is a lot of potential there that we need to explore more,” he stressed.
Furthermore, Jaishankar noted that India, in the backdrop of economic and trade reforms promoted by the Narendra Modi government is “getting increasingly prominent in the global economy”, adding that “our intention, our goal is to make India a major manufacturing hub and to emerge as a 5 trillion economy by 2025.”
In is remarks, Kasoulides highlighted the multifaceted Cyprus – India partnership that has steadily been growing stronger in recent years.
“The virtues of our 60 year long friendship provide us with a unique opportunity to surge ahead, exploring new areas of cooperation. It is precisely for these reasons that enhancing relations with India forms one of the core pillars of our foreign policy,” he said, adding that economic ties are a common denominator to this effort.
“There is an array of fields with untapped potential for cooperation in trade and investment, such as renewable energy, financial services, science and technology, ICT, Research and innovation, pharmaceuticals, shipping, tourism, and education and culture,” Kasoulides added.
The forum was also welcomed by the Deputy Minister for Shipping Vassilis Demetriades, who referred to the cooperation of the two countries in the field of shipping.
Demetriades noted that currently there are 7,000 Indian seafarers with a Cypriot seaman’s book representing around 15 percent of the total seafarers working on board Cyprus ships.
He also recalled that during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cyprus was among the first countries that treated seafarers as essential workers and making the repatriation and crew change for more than 65,000 seafarers possible, while Cyprus was the only country globally that proposed a global vaccination programme for all seafarers.
Furthermore, Demetriades assured that India “can count on Cyprus as being a good ambassador for India in Brussels” and he referred to the example of ship recycling, which is an important sector for India.
Turning to the greening of the shipping sector, Demetriades agreed with Jaishankar that the whole effort “needs a different mindset” and that this initiative should not come only by demonstrating our high level of ambition just by committing in some goals for 2030 or 2050, but by bridging the gaps.
“Climate change faces no borders, shipping has an international character so we should work together,” he said.