ECONOMY

In Brief

Greece and Cyprus sign agreement of cooperation in merchant shipping The shipping registers of Greece and European Union newcomer Cyprus will together account for more than 50 percent of the Union’s merchant fleet and be the dominant «powers» in the transport sector, given that 90 percent of the movement of goods to and from Europe and 41 percent of internal transportation is conducted with vessels, Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Anomeritis said in Nicosia, where the two countries signed a cooperation agreement in the sector. Cypriot Minister of Transport and Works Kikis Kazamias said the two countries will work together to implement the EU goal for quality shipping, focusing on safety and environmental protection. He said Cyprus is seeking the extension of inter-European transport networks at sea, with a view to possible future links with outside regions such as the Middle East. Anomeritis said a cooperation agreement on search and rescue operations at sea and coordination on other issues such as illegal immigration and trafficking will follow. Greece and Cyprus have the fourth and sixth largest shipping registers respectively worldwide. Balkan travel agents consider joint promotion schemes Balkan countries have a broad potential for cooperation in tourism, including the creation of joint data banks and other information facilities, maps and CDs, with a view to attracting visitors from other parts of the world as well as each other’s countries, the chairman of the Hellenic Association of Tourism and Travel Agents (HATTA), Yiannis Evangelou, told a meeting of the Balkan Federation of Travel Bureau Associations (BAFTAA) in Sofia. The federation’s next meeting in Tirana on July 26 will deal with its operational plan. Banc Post EFG Eurobank has acquired a further, 17 percent interest in Romania’s Banc Post from Portugal’s Banco BPI, bringing its total to 53.2 percent. Eurobank said in a statement that the development is part of its expansion strategy in Romania and will allow it to pursue the faster growth of Banc Post. The deal is subject to approval by Romanian regulatory authorities. Viohalco Metallurgy group Viohalco, Greece’s largest exporter, expects that global recovery, the completion of its five-year, 800-million-euro investment program this year, its cost reduction drive and growth of commercial networks will substantially improve the results of subsidiaries in coming fiscal years. Management told shareholders that the investment program, which includes recent acquisitions by subsidiary Elval of plants in Britain and Bulgaria, will more than double the group’s productive capacity. The group said 2002 net results were affected by higher depreciation and amortization costs and the global downturn. Shareholders approved a dividend payout of 9.5 cents per share for 2002. ELPE-Petrola The managing director of Petrola, Greece’s second-largest oil refiner, has been elected as non-executive member of Hellenic Petroleum as part of the process of the two companies’ merger, which was agreed in late May and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.