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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-04-28

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From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Sunday, April 28, 2002


  • [01] Import tax shocks, but 'fruit and veg prices will fall'
  • [02] Larnaca hardest hit in bookings slump
  • [03] Womens' rights: Cyprus signs up

  • [01] Import tax shocks, but 'fruit and veg prices will fall'

    CONSUMERS in Cyprus hit by high fruit and veg prices should see costs fall once the island is fully harmonised with the European Union.

    That was the good news yesterday from Petros Markou, President of the Consumers Association, following press reports about high import taxes on agricultural products imported from EU countries.

    Politis newspaper reported that some imported products, such as beans, were taxed by as much as 103 per cent, and others, for example, tomatoes -- during the period from May 15 to October 31 last year -- had a 42.6 per cent import tax slapped on them, as well as an additional £703.90 per 1,000 kilograms.

    Onions, said to be taxed at 64.8 per cent, were far more expensive in Cyprus than in other European countries, because importers have to increase the price even further to make a profit, said Politis.

    But, Markou told the Sunday Mail, these import taxes were only temporary and once Cyprus has fully harmonised with the EU they would be abolished.

    “When we enter the EU there will be no such import taxes on products,” he confirmed. “Although for the time being they are very high, they have been in place for quite some time now and so are not a new phenomenon.”

    He said the transitional phase was to prepare the local agriculture industry for what was to come once full harmonisation with the EU was achieved.

    “In the past we were not allowed to import any foreign products, but when we signed the World Trade Organisation's General Agreement on Tariffs and Trades (GATT) we were told that we could no longer forbid the import of goods, unless there was a health hazard involved with a particular country's produce.

    “So, in order to protect local production, the government decided to impose import duties on these goods for a transition period, to help the industry adapt to the new state of affairs. In fact, as of this year, I think a lot of these taxes are going to be abolished anyway,” said Markou.

    “However,” he warned, “We are going to have problems, because our agricultural industry is going to be put to the test. That is a fact, and there is no way of getting round it. Our farmers will just not be able to compete with European imported goods because the prices will be so much lower, and they will face survival problems”.

    Markou explained that the reason local fruit and vegetable products were so expensive was because basically there is not enough farmland to go round, which results in high production costs.

    “Abroad, each farmer might have 500 acres of farmland, whereas in Cyprus people only have five acres because it is a small island,” he said. In other words, said Markou, the way forward would be to focus on quality and preference.

    “We will have to base our local agriculture industry on high quality produce and consumer preference,” he said. “The weather in Cyprus is much better than in most other European countries, which means we have optimum conditions to produce premium quality goods. As consumers, I think we should bear this in mind when we are out shopping.” For example, said Markou, local apples were much tastier than imported ones.

    He said Cyprus had another advantage: “We can produce some goods, like potatoes, during seasons when other European countries cannot, and so can focus on marketing them during those periods.”

    Markou felt that the fear of what is to come was the reason why farmers were demanding subsidies from the government. “They can be subsidised to a point, but unfortunately the EU has put certain limitations as to what extent. In other words, we as consumers have nothing to fear, it's the farmers who do.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Larnaca hardest hit in bookings slump

    By Jean Christou

    LARNACA has been hardest hit in the holiday bookings stakes this year, showing a drop of 58 per cent in reservations from the UK.

    According to internal Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) figures, bookings for Paphos are down 23 per cent, Limassol 36 per cent, and Ayia Napa 50 per cent as of the end of February.

    Ayia Napa has suffered not only from the impact of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the US but also from its growing reputation as a riotous resort for British clubbers. A British market expert earlier this month said that demand for Ayia Napa was already down before September 11, particularly as regards families.

    The CTO figures, which were presented to the cabinet on Wednesday, also show that bookings with the main British tour giants are substantially down over last year. The bigger operators have cut a total of 150,000 seats to Cyprus this year. Bookings with Thomas Cook are down 40 per cent, First Choice 32 per cent Airtours 25 per cent, and Thomson 15 per cent.

    Cypriot specialists Libra has seen bookings plummet 37 per cent, Olympic 36 per cent, Argo 46 per cent, Cosmos 48 per cent, Amathus 64 per cent and Cyprair 57 per cent. However two specialists, Golden Sun and Cyplon, have seen their bookings for 2002 rise 15 per cent and four per cent respectively.

    The data also shows that departures for Cyprus from Stansted would be down by 47 per cent, Gatwick 42 per cent, Glasgow 33 per cent and Manchester 29 per cent.

    The island's hoteliers say the bookings situation is bleak but Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis believes numbers will pick up in the coming months with a spate of last-minute reservation.

    The Cabinet is expected to approve additional advertising revenue for tourism, reportedly in the region of £4 million, at its next meeting on May 8.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Womens' rights: Cyprus signs up

    CYPRUS has signed the optional Protocol to the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

    The protocol empowers the UN Committee for eliminating discrimination against women to examine applications submitted by individuals or groups who have exhausted all internal remedies. It also empowers the committee to investigate issues relating to serious and systematic violations of the Convention.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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