The trade deficit of the small island nation of Cyprus stands at CYP1.7 billion, as exports of CYP215 million were surpassed by imports of CYP1.9 billion in 1999.
"Unfortunately, we have no trade balance with any of our major partners.
The balance has always been against Cyprus," George Neophytou, of the
Commerce and Industry Ministry remarked.
"We simply import far more than we export being a free market as we are," he added.
The five major trading partners of Cyprus are the US, the UK, Italy, France and Germany, Cyprus Weekly reported.
Cyprus has maintained solid trade relations with Holland and Denmark, as well as with Arab nations such as Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt.
Imports from Japan in 1999 jumped to CYP133 million, while exports stood at CYP400 million. Imported Japanese goods, particularly automobiles, continue to dominate the local market. (1 CYP=$1.5175 USD)
Experts point to various factors that have lessened Cypriot exports in recent years. A prolonged drought has hindered the domestic growth of potatoes and grapes. Furthermore, strong competition and low productivity costs have affected exports. Many contend that Cyprus must improve the marketing infrastructure of its goods, and focus on specialized products, like Halloumi, the national gourmet cheese.
In addition, the successful development of specialized services such as telecommunications, information technology, auditing, banking and legal services offer promise for the country.
"Specialized services today make up 62% of the island's GDP (Gross Domestic Product)," according to Neophytou. — (Abawaba-MEBG)
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