The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is keen to establish trade relations with Qatar, the state's top envoy in Doha has said. In an exclusive interview with Qatar Tribune, Ambassador Dr Tayseer Al Shanableh, representative of TRNC in Qatar, said he was optimistic that the trade between the two countries would start from next year."We do not have any trade exchange on official basis. May be some private companies are buying or selling goods from here and there. This is why we do not have any bilateral trade figures. But we are working hard to establish trade relations between the two countries. "We have many goods that we can export to Qatar. And there are also many goods than can be imported from Qatar to North Cyprus. We are trying to make connections in this important sector.
We have some connections, but we want to establish more connections," the envoy said. "We have products like chicken, eggs, dairy items, citrus and other fruits, building materials, agricultural equipment, olive oils, olive, soft drinks, juices and potatoes that can be exported to Qatar. "North Cyprus is known for producing good quality potatoes. We export potatoes to a number of countries including South Cyprus and the UK," he added. For TRNC, the envoy said, Qatar is also an important destination for import as far as petrochemical products are concerned.
"We see Qatar as a major ally in securing world's energy needs. Qatar is number one in energy exports. We can cooperate in this sector," Shanableh said. "Huge reserves of natural gas have been discovered off Cyprus shores. Qatari expertise and investment can be vital in monetising these natural resources. So there is a possibility of future joint venture in this important sector," he said. Besides energy, Shanableh said, tourism and education are other areas in TRNC that offer good investment opportunities for Qatar.
T.R.N.C offers several incentives for foreign investors. Facilities like exemption from custom duties and funds, zero rate VAT, state-owned land and building lease, exemption from construction license fee, reduction of stamp duty for capital increase and reduction of fee on mortgage procedures.
We have already attracted a number of foreign investors to TRNC. We are eager to have investors from Qatar as well," the envoy said."We have some private investors from Qatar. They have made some investment in the real estate sector. We are in talks with some Qatari investors to build five-star hotels," he said. Shanableh said a number of investors from TRNC are also looking for investment in Qatar, especially in the food sector.
"Qatar has witnessed tremendous growth in the food sector especially in the wake of the unjust blockade by some of the neighbouring countries. This is an area where businessmen from the two sides can collaborate to develop the industry further," he noted. A large trade delegation from TRNC is expected to visit Qatar in the near future to establish trade ties with their counterparts in Doha, the envoy said.
TRNC is home to 15 universities that receive students from different parts of the world, including Gulf countries. Around 95,000 students study in these universities of which about 25 percent come from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation member countries. TNRC is the