|Speech by H.E. Ambassador Liu Xinsheng|
|4 December 2013|
Mr. Panicos Kaouris, President of the Cyprus-China Business Association,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good evening! I am very delighted to welcome you all to join us tonight. It is my pleasure to meet all the friends old and new from Cyprus-China Business Association.
First of all, I wish to extend my sincere congratulations to Mr. Kaouris, the new president of Cyprus-China Business Association. Mr. Kaouris and I are old friends. As Partner of PWC, who takes charge of Chinese affairs, Mr. Kaouris has consistently demonstrated his highly professional dedication and an extensive knowledge of Chinese business. I strongly believe that under his leadership, the Association will continue to play a vital part in the development of the China-Cyprus relationship.
Also, a special "thanks" goes to Mr. Mousioutas, the former president of Association, for his contribution and friendship over the last several years. Thanks to his vision and dedication, Mr. Mousioutas has steered the Association along the dynamic road in a responsive and measured way. His excellent leadership and active effort has ensured the Association played a significant role in acting as a business bridge between China and Cyprus. Mr. Mousioutas, we really appreciate all your effort! Thank you very much!
This year marks the 42 year's anniversary of China-Cyprus establishing diplomatic relation. The friendship between our countries has a long history and is deeply rooted in the hearts of the people. Especially in recent years, China-Cyprus relations entered a new stage, with mutual political trust being increasingly enhanced, economic and trade cooperation being constantly expanded and people-to-people exchange getting more dynamic.The two countries enjoy a vast prospect for cooperation.
According to China Customs Statistics, our bilateral trade in 2012 reached 940 million euro, up by 14.8% percentage year-on-year, a strong growth when world major trade partners were slowed down by economic crisis. And from January to September of this year, China import from Cyprus was more that 31 million euro, up by 51.8% over the same period of the previous year. It means China's import volume from Cyprus has maintained a sustainable growth for 10 consecutive years. Now China is Cyprus' eighth-largest trading partner. The healthy and smooth development of economic and trading relations between our countries has brought and will continue to bring solid and tangible benefits to the peoples of the two countries.
As known to all, Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis paid a successful visit to China last month. He was also leading a large delegation with 25 representatives from Cyprus business sector to Beijing and Shanghai. At the same time, many Chinese people are turning their eyes to this beautiful island and entering Cyprus property market at a fast pace. According to the statistics, the direct investment from China to Cyprus has been rising rapidly, with the Chinese purchasing around 100 million US dollars worth of immovable property alone in 2011. Applications by Chinese nationals to gain permanent residency in Cyprus have jumped from a couple of dozen in 2012 to hundreds this year, according to the interior ministry's migration department which said it counted over 400 applications at the end of August.
It is a positive sign that Chinese people are becoming increasingly interested in Cyprus, but the rapid expansion of property market has also unavoidably led to some temporary problems such as misleading advertisement, unreasonable commission and artificially elevated house price. Of course, compared with the majority of honest and reliable companies, these special cases are only a drop in the ocean. However, in order to keep a sustainable growth of Chinese investment, we still hope the supervisory departments can clarify the benefits of permanent residency, enhance transparency and fairness in property market, and create a clear, fair, practical and efficient mechanism to protect the interest of property buyers. We believe that in such a favorable business environment, Chinese investment will maintain a sound momentum of development.
China is sincere in enhancing cooperation with Europe and we are confident about the prospects of our cooperation. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang just wrapped up his Romania visit a few days ago, after meeting with leaders of Central and eastern European countries for an annual summit. The all-round cooperation between China and EU will embark on a new journey. Located in the southeast of Europe, Cyprus is always a trustworthy friend for Chinese people. China stands ready to deepen practical cooperation with Cyprus in such fields as trade, tourism, real estate, energy and infrastructure, expand cultural and people-to-people exchanges, and strengthen communication and coordination on global and regional affairs. We are confident that with the joint effort from leadership, government and people in both countries, we will create a even brighter future of the friendly cooperation between our countries.
Finally, I would like to express my sincere thanks to Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Cyprus-China Business Association for your active effort to advance trade and economic ties between our countries. My thanks also go to all of you who have been dedicated to the friendship and cooperation between China and Cyprus. I wish all the friends every success and greater happiness! Thank you!