The Government of Cyprus is currently studying an action plan that will assist all the Cyprus key export products, in order to address the decrease in exports and the increase in the trade deficit observed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is widely recognised that the main products exported by Cyprus are pharmaceuticals, potatoes, juices and dairy products, the most important among them being the traditional cheese halloumi.
Between January and April 2021, during the peak of the pandemic, the trade deficit stood at 1.8 billion euros, showing an increase of 20.4%. Over the same period, imports increased by 4.6%, while exports decreased by 19.3%, according to the latest available data.
It should be noted that halloumi exports were rising at a very rapid pace in 2020, reaching 266.5 million euros, compared to the 224 million euros of 2019 and the 195 million euros of 2018, particularly after the labelling of halloumi as a product with Protected Designation of Origin. The key halloumi export markets are the United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany, Australia, Austria and Denmark. However, this upward momentum seems to have been immobilised by the pandemic.
The new study that is being prepared covers a wide range of sectors, it aims to record in detail the existing problems in the field of exports, but also the role of various critical bodies, such as involved ministries, the Cyprus Employers and Industrialists Federation, the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry, various associations and companies, the legal framework for product trafficking, as well as policies followed by other countries that produce impressive results.
The director of the Cyprus Trade Service, Ms Panagiota Patsalis stated that the aim of this study is to boost targeted exports. A draft of the study has been submitted to the Ministry and comments/reviews from their side are pending.
Τhe foremost weaknesses observed in the export policies of halloumi and other products are due to: 1) the difficulty of establishing a connection between the island of Cyprus and foreign service centers, 2) the high port fees, and 3) the high cost of electricity.
The aforementioned factors, which are crucial for exports, significantly obstruct the emergence of halloumi as a competitive exportable product.
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