Nicosia: Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides on Friday said that his country supported the momentum of negotiations on the EU-India Free Trade Agreement.

Speaking at a business event in Cyprus, Kasoulides said, "There is recognition of the great scope for further cooperation to relations between the European Union and India. In this respect, we support the momentum of the negotiations of the EU-India Free Trade Agreement. Cyprus is a strong voice within the EU, and there is a need to strengthen tangibly EU-India relations."

India and the European Union concluded the first round of negotiations for the India-EU Trade and Investment Agreements, including the Geographical Indicators (GI) in July 2022. The second round of negotiations took place in September 2022 in Brussels.

India's bilateral trade with the EU amounted to USD 116.36 billion in 2021-22. Despite the global disruptions, the bilateral trade achieved an impressive annual growth of 43.5 per cent in 2021-22, reported the Ministry of Commerce and Industry press release.

Currently, the EU is India's second-largest trading partner after the US and the second-largest destination for Indian exports.

The trade agreement with the EU would help India further expand and diversify its exports of goods and services, including securing the value chains. Both sides are aiming for the trade negotiations to be broad-based, balanced, and comprehensive, based on the principles of fairness and reciprocity.

Congratulating the High Commission of India for the organization of an excellent initiative, which aims to enhance the bilateral, economic and business relations between the two countries, Cyprus FM said, "Today's event comes at a very timely juncture, as it is taking place in the presence of External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar. I had the pleasure yesterday to welcome him at the Foreign Ministry, where we had the opportunity to discuss a plethora of foreign policy issues, pertaining to our bilateral, regional and European agenda."

Cyprus and India have traditionally shared excellent relations and have common historical experiences - parameters like the fight for freedom against colonialism and the mutual adherence to global values of peace, democracy, human rights, peaceful resolution of disputes, and rule of law have brought people closer and solidified the foundation of strong friendship between the two countries.

"Over the years, the two countries have built on these historical ties as testified by our joint membership and active participation in the Commonwealth, the United Nations and other international for a," said Kasoulides.

He said that India is a key player in the political and economic areas. It plays an important and stabilizing role in the neighbourhood of South Asia, setting an example with its stand on peace, security, stability and prosperity.

"In the same vein, India has steadfastly stood in favour of reunifying Cyprus through a comprehensive settlement, in line with UN Security Council resolutions," said Kasoulides.

The current issue between Cyprus and Turkey is an ongoing dispute between Greek Cypriots in the south and Turkish Cypriots in the north. According to a recent report by American broadcaster Voice of America (VOA), tensions between Greece and Turkey over the divided island of Cyprus appear to be escalating.

The multifaceted Cyprus-India partnership has steadily been growing stronger in recent years. The virtue of our 60-year-long friendship provides both countries 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. Economic ties are a common denominator to this effort and that is why the Minister of Foreign Affairs of India is striving to upgrade this relationship, working closely with other stakeholders in Cyprus, both in the private and public sectors," said Kasoulides.

He said that there is an array of fields, the untapped potential for cooperation in trade and investments, such as renewable energy, financial services, science and technology, information, communication technology, research and innovation, pharmaceuticals, shipping, tourism and education.

The Cyprus minister also talked about the challenges that the world economy faced.

"Our world and our economies are faced with enormous challenges, a few years ago we had to deal with the pandemic and subsequent recession and disruptions of value chains and more recently the war in Ukraine, the food and energy crisis, as well as, inflation," said Kasoulides.

Presenting Cyprus for Indian investments, he said that the country's main economic policy aim is "green and digital transition."

"Despite the hardships, Cyprus's economy shows sign of steady growth and remains committed to its policy for healthy public finances and constructive structural reforms which aim at enhancing the competitiveness of the economy. It is noted that one of the main pillars of our economic policy is the 'green and digital transition' of the country, supported through funding from the EU," said Kasoulides.

"It presents many opportunities for investments across all sectors and we are strongly committed to working together with India with an aim to strengthen our important partnership - political and economic at a bilateral and multilateral level. I am certain that today's event will bring us one step closer to this goal," he added.

He said that Cyprus's economy is stable and is continuously working towards improving its business climate.

"For 2022, the GDP growth is expected to be around 5.7 per cent and the projections for 2023 are around 3 per cent reflecting heightened global uncertainty. Inflation has been increasing since September 2021, mainly due to higher oil prices. 2022 figures are estimated around 7.7 per cent and for 2023 is about 3 per cent. It is therefore clear that Cyprus's economy is stable and is continuously working towards improving its business climate," said the Cyprus minister.