Top Cyprus dairy producers see bright future in China
Last Updated: 2018-11-12 11:23 | Xinhua
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Cypriot farmers are hailing a new protocol for the export of Cypriot dairy products to China as an 'important step forward' for their industry.

Earlier this week, the two countries signed a protocol which is hoped will lead to the export of Cypriot dairy products, including the popular halloumi cheese to China.

"Absolutely we have high expectations for China, because we believe there is a big demand and a potential demand," said John Pittas, the export manager for Pittas Dairy Industries, in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

Pittas is one of the leading halloumi producers on the island, employing over 200 people making traditional local cheeses. Their best seller is called halloumi, which is popular given its high melting point, making it ideal for grilling and frying.

"We are ready for China. We have the labels ready, we have prepared everything. All we are waiting for now is the approval, and then we will send the first container," Pittas added.

Halloumi has become an increasingly profitable export. As it stands, Pittas cheeses are sold in Europe, the United States, the Middle East, Australia and Japan accounting for more than 50 percent of the total exports of local dairy products. In all - between several dozen producers - it's estimated that over 6,000 families depend on the industry.

During a meeting in China on Tuesday, the Cypriot Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis and Chinese Minister of the General Administration of Customs Ni Yuefeng also discussed the future export of local red-soil potatoes and fishery products to China.

Kadispaid a visit to the First China International Import Expo, which marked a new era in opening the Chinese market to third countries as the country becomes a global market importer. He also embarked on a series of meetings with wine and food distributors in an effort to penetrate the lucrative Chinese market.

Pittas said he was confident that given the latest developments, he will be at the same event next year.

"We know about the Import Expo, and now that there is a potential market for us, we will definitely be there in 2019," Pittas added. The 6-day expo, which was held in Shanghai, gave more than 400,000 buyers a chance to meet with more than 3,600 businesses from 172 countries.

Relations between China and Cyprus have been expanding rapidly on a number of fronts. Last year, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasidies said Chinese investors buying local property had contributed to the recovery of the beleaguered construction sector after a financial crisis hit the island in 2013.

Next year, the Cypriot Finance Minister, Harris Georgiades, and China's Vice Minister of Commerce Fu Ziying, will hold an intergovernmental conference in China to further promote economic and trade relations, according to a statement from Cypriot Finance Ministry last month. The past few years have seen growth in trade, investment, and plans for more tourism between the two countries.

The countries are getting closer in other areas too. Last summer, the second Cyprus Chinese Cultural Festival was held in the resort city of Limassol which aimed at offering a role in promoting more cultural exchanges.

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