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29-11-2019 20:21

Address by the MTCW Ms Vassiliki Anastassiadou at the Business Direction event in London ''Cyprus: The perfect place to invest''

It is a great pleasure for me to be addressing the Business direction event in the UK  which is under my auspices and organised by the Business Direction Events UK , the Anglo-Cyprus Association of Business and  Michael Kyprianou &Co . The event will present the opportunities that Cyprus offers in new and proven markets. The areas of discussion are among others:  start up new business in Cyprus, banking, tax and legal services, property developers and real estate investment, Funds and new innovative investment projects.

The Cypriot economy went through a tough time over the past few years but since then, what has been achieved is nothing short of a remarkable recovery, confirming the resilience and strong foundations of the Cyprus’ economy and the excellent prospects of its key productive sectors.

More specifically , the series of measures that the government implemented - the correction of public finances, the reinstatement of the banking system to a healthier footing, combined with the synergies that took place in the private sector and the incentives to attract value-added investments -were decisive in the quick recovery of the Cypriot economy and its return to growth. Cyprus currently enjoys one of the highest growth rates in the EU (almost 4%), together with significant investments in a number of sectors, while stability, confidence and the reform process pave the way for new businesses and further development opportunities.

 Furthermore, Cyprus, the EU’s lighthouse in the Eastern Mediterranean, has embarked on implementing its vision of being a positive force of stability, most vividly demonstrated by the web of trilateral cooperation mechanisms we have established in the region. Working with Greece, and others in the region - such as Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Palestine and Lebanon - Cyprus has created these individual trilateral fora that constitute a prime example of good neighbourly relation.

Cyprus’ comparative advantages which have established it as a major centre for international business, amongst others, include the combination of

EU membership, the legal framework, an attractive corporate taxation of 12.5%, an extensive network of 65 Double Tax Treaties, a highly skilled and professional workforce, modern infrastructure and  a unique geographical location which provides easy access not only to European markets, but also to those of North Africa, the Middle East, the Gulf region and Asia.

We are already seeing new investments from both local and foreign investors, which in turn further boost economic activity. Private consumption has increased with steady salaries, while the unemployment rate has dropped to 7%, and the country will return to conditions of full employment by 2020.

Our common vision is to establish Cyprus as a prosperous, reliable and competitive business hub, keen on providing the conditions under which any investor can thrive.

In this respect, we are promoting a number of various reforms, aiming to further improve the business and investment environment, including a tax incentives package for investment to innovative companies, a new law to fast-track licensing procedures for large investments, reforming of the judiciary system, implementing a National Strategy for blockchain technology, as well as significant reforms, in the public sector, the welfare system and the health care system.

Furthermore, new and substantial investments have been observed in the fields of banking, energy, shipping, telecommunications, retail, real estate and tourism, new sea ports, marinas and the largest integrated casino resort in Europe . In addition, over the last few years we have seen an increasing number of shipping management  companies establishing a base in our country or expanding their existing operations.

Besides the aforementioned sectors, there are significant investment opportunities in Renewable Energy Sources, technology, research and innovation and education, while a series of tax incentives are also provided for the growing start-up industry.

Further, the discovery of natural gas reserves within Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone creates exciting investment prospects, including for auxiliary service providers, many of which have already established subsidiary companies in Cyprus.

Main target  of the Government is to reduce energy costs and support one of the country’s most important restructuring reforms, the introduction of a Competitive Electricity Market.

This will be achieved by the import  of LNG for electricity generation by the end of 2021. The capital cost of the project is about  300 million euro out of which  101 million euro has already been secured from the EU. The tender procedure for the construction, operation and maintenance of the infrastructure has been concluded and Natural Gas Public Company  (DEFA) announced that the consortium led by China Petroleum Pipeline Engineering CO Ltd was the preferential bidder.

Under the areas of the responsibilities of the Ministry of Transport , Communications and Works , a number of initiatives have been introduced to encourage investment and enhance the infrastructure available in Cyprus. The  main priorities of the Ministry are the modernization of public transport, the sustainable mobility , the increase of the connectivity, the expansion of the road network ,the expansion of ports  and the digitalisation reform.

The commercialisation of the Limassol port in 2016 is one such example, through which our biggest deep-sea port is being developed into one of the most modern and efficient ports in the region.

 A negotiation process is in progress for our second largest port, located in Larnaca, the commercialisation of which is expected to give a further boost to our tourism industry, an already booming sector of the economy 

The  industrial port at  Vasilikos will be expanded  to facilitate the support of the  companies  engaged  with offshore exploration. 

At the same time, a number of public projects  are in the pipeline such as the expansion / improvement of the  road network  which connects  cities with  villages such as Limassol –Saitas , Paphos-Polis  , Nicosia –Palechori, Astromeritis –Eurychou , Ring road of  Nicosia. Furthermore, projects such as the construction of the new Parliament, the new Archaological museum of Nicosia  are in progress.

In addition, the  public transport system, will be upgraded with the provision of modern buses to latest technology  , more frequent routes ,  to improve the quality of  citizens ¨’life  and to reduce   traffic congestion.

The fifth generation of telecommunication systems (5G) will be the most critical building block of our "digital society" over the next decade.5G is primarily geared to all sectors of the economy and will be the catalyst and the necessary vehicle for their rapid digital transformation.The implementation of the Internet of Things on a massive scale, in order to create completely new experiences and business models, is at the heart of our new industrial revolution and transition to the digital economy.Therefore, it is expected that the future 5G infrastructure will serve a wide range of applications and sectors, such as autonomous driving, remote surgery, energy management, smart cities.

Sufficient aviation connectivity between Cyprus and the rest of the world is our priority for  further economic development of the island. Cyprus as an island located at the edge of the EU depends mainly on air transport for its connectivity to the outside world.  The aviation-sector is an area of continuous growth. To date Cyprus has concluded Bilateral Agreements with 51 countries and initialled Agreements with 20 countries. Although overall connectivity is at a satisfactory level, there is still room for improvement and this can be achieved by attracting new markets and by strengthening existing markets with great potential such as Germany, France, Ireland and Italy. In co-operation with Hermes Airports Ltd.

The Government of the Republic of Cyprus has adopted incentive schemes for airlines which have been successful in improving connectivity as well as the economic development of the country. Contributing factors to this growth are the regulatory framework implemented within the European Union and the “Open Skies” policy implemented by the Government of Cyprus with regards to third countries.

I would also like take this opportunity and express our sincere hope for a successful conclusion for all parties involved, to the Brexit chapter. The EU and the 27 member states have done everything within their power to facilitate the best possible outcome for all, under the circumstances.

Whilst we sincerely hope that a breakthrough will be achieved leading to the ratification by the UK Parliament of the Withdrawal Agreement, we have prepared for all scenarios, in order to ensure that the impact on the daily lives of our citizens and on our economies will be minimized, irrespective of the time and the way in which Brexit will eventually occur.

Dear Guests,

I wish to assure you that we shall remain focused on maintaining and broadening the conditions with the objective to achieve high economic growth.

The inflow of large-scale value-added investments is crucial in our efforts,  target long-term growth and social welfare. In this context, we will create the environment  to help investors in an effort to  assist them in developing  new business ventures.

We know that it is through  collaboration between   public and  private sector that we shall succeed in capturing  opportunities for new businesses and investments.  We shall continue creating jobs, opportunities and prosperity for our people and this is  the ambition and  a commitment of this Government.

Your presence here today is a testament to the success of  the Republic of Cyprus in transforming its economy and, through a series of key reforms, in developing into a world-class investment destination.

 I would like to thank you for being here and please accept my wishes for a fruitful and constructive conference.

( DC )