Nirmala Sitharaman, India’s Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, will be paying an official visit to Cyprus on Monday, February 13, heading a trade delegation that will also interact with local businesspeople.
This is the first visit by an Indian official since PM Narendra Modi’s government took office in May 2014 and follows Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis’ visit to New Delhi in December last year heading a Cyprus trade team at the Petrotech 2016 and India-Europe 29 Business Forum.With bilateral trade at a low level of EUR 76 mln in 2016, an official statement from the Indian High Commission in Nicosia suggested that “there is scope for improvement and both sides have been making efforts in this regard.”The announcement added that “the main objective of the visit is to review the present state of India-Cyprus relations in all fields and rejuvenate by further deepening and expanding the historic friendly relations between the two countries. The visit will provide an excellent opportunity to exchange views on matters of mutual interest and concerns and on regional and international developments.”Imports from India to Cyprus include organic chemicals, oil seed, oleagi fruits, fish and other aquatic invertebrate, vehicles and accessories, and iron and steel, while Cyprus exports and re-exports to India include aluminium products, wood pulp, iron and steel, machinery, boilers, engines, and plastic items.However, trade ties are much better when it comes to foreign direct investments (FDI) in India, estimated to have reached $8.93 bln from April 2000 to September 2016.Furthermore, the revised India-Cyprus double taxation avoidance agreement (DTAA) was signed on November 18 in Nicosia and as a result of this positive development, Cyprus was removed from the “Notified Jurisdiction Area” list.On the political front, the High Commission noted that “relations between India and Cyprus have been traditionally very close and friendly. India has consistently and unwaveringly supported the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Cyprus and a peaceful resolution of the Cyprus problem. India and Cyprus also cooperate closely at the UN, international organisations, the Commonwealth and ASEM.”The Minister will be meeting Ioannis Kasoulides, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, Minister for Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism, and Harris Georgiades, Minister of Finance.During her visit, Minister Sitharaman will also address the executive board of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KEVE) and meet with the President of the Cyprus-India Business Association (CIBA).India and Cyprus signed an Agreement on Economic, Trade, Scientific and Industrial Co-operation in April 1989, following which the Joint Economic Committee (JEC) was established. The last session of the JEC was held through a video conference on June 8, 2016.On Monday morning, Minister Sitharaman will inaugurate the “Konark Wheel” sculpture gifted by India to Cyprus and installed at the Open Air Museum of the Foreign Ministry, where symbolic works of art and sculpture from other nations have also been placed.“This gesture of the government of India is to enhance India-Cyprus relations in the area of culture, and to promote appreciation of cultural heritage and understanding which is so vital in a region suffering from instability and destruction due to radicalisation and terrorism,” the High Commission statement concluded.