NEWS

Deal on trade across Green Line

NICOSIA (AFP) – The European Commission and the Cypriot government have reached a deal to boost trade between the island’s divided Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot communities, officials said yesterday. The new regulations raise from 30 euros to 135 euros the duty-free ceiling on goods that can be taken from one side to the other, including a liter of alcohol and two packets of cigarettes for personal use. An original EU proposal had set the bar at 175 euros and 200 cigarettes, but Nicosia pushed for a compromise. It is not yet clear whether Turkish-Cypriot officials in the island’s Turkish-occupied north will agree to the deal for trade across the UN-controlled buffer zone, known as the Green Line. The preliminary accord was struck during the visit of a European Commission delegation headed by Leopold Maurer. Maurer said, «We are very happy about the progress we have achieved here in Cyprus,» and also welcomed an agreement struck by both sides to open more crossing points to facilitate trade and people movement. «We came here with the main objective to make progress on the Green Line regulation. Not only do we have now an agreement on the outstanding points but we also think it is very important that we will have two more crossing points, the very important Ledra Street and the also important Zodhia,» said Maurer. Also included in the trade accord are «wholly obtained goods and processed goods originating in the northern part of the island,» while «obstacles in the trade for agricultural products such as citrus will be removed,» said an EU statement. The trade agreement is expected to come into effect by mid-February.