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18-04-2019 11:06

Address by the President of the Republic, Mr Nicos Anastasiades, at the Georgia – Cyprus Business Forum, in Tbilisi, Georgia

It is truly a great pleasure and an honour to address the distinguished members of the business communities of Georgia and Cyprus.

From the outset, I would like to express my appreciation to the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Ministry of Energy, Commerce, and Industry, which in co-operation with the Cyprus-Georgia Business Association and the Cyprus Employers and Industrialists Federation, undertook the initiative to hold today’s Forum. 

A Forum which provides a unique opportunity for all participants to hold productive discussions and identify the business opportunities that Cyprus and Georgia have to offer, as well as exchange ideas and means on further strengthening the economic, trade and investment partnership between our two countries.

Cyprus and Georgia enjoy a long-standing exceptional relationship, founded on concrete and deeply-entrenched historical, political, cultural and religious ties.

This relationship is greatly valued by the Government and the people of Cyprus and is one that we actively aim to upgrade even further.

In this respect, I consider my official visit to Georgia, a historic visit I might say since it constitutes the first official visit by a Cypriot President, as an important milestone for reaffirming our reciprocal political engagement to the same fundamental causes:

  • To qualitatively enhance our bilateral institutional framework of co-operation, as evident by the signing of a number of Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding in the fields of Agriculture, Health and Classified Information. 
  • To strengthen our economic relations, intensify trade and commercial flows, increase tourist exchanges and enhance investment ventures between our countries.

It is indeed true that even though:

  • An Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation is in force;
  • A Cyprus-Georgia Business Association has been established, and;
  • There is a vibrant Georgian community present in Cyprus;

 Our economic relations have fallen behind our political and friendly people-to-people relations.

To this end, today’s business forum, the first to ever take place between Cyprus and Georgia, provides an important opportunity to significantly advance our economic cooperation in terms of revealing new possibilities and new markets for our business people.

In this endeavor:

  •  The historical links between the Georgian and Cypriot people;
  •  Our political rapprochement, either through my visit or the recent visit of the President of the House of Representatives, which also constituted the first one at such a level to ever take place, and;
  • The newly established Cyprus – Georgia Business Club; 

Serve as an ideal foundation for broadening and promoting trade and economic activities between our entrepreneurs.

Allow me to seize the opportunity of your presence to share with you some important information on Cyprus’ comparative advantages which have established our country as a major center for international businesses and have led to a number of new and substantial investments in the fields of banking, energy, shipping, telecommunications, real estate and tourism; with new sea ports, Marinas and the largest integrated casino resort in Europe under construction.

These advantages, amongst others, include the combination of our EU membership, the use of the Anglo-Saxon legal framework, an attractive corporate taxation of 12.5%, highly skilled and professional workforce, modern infrastructures and a unique geographical location which provides easy access not only to European markets but also to those of North Africa, the Near and Middle East, the Gulf region and Asia.

In parallel, it is worth highlighting that as a result of the Government’s ambitious reform programme, the careful management of state finances and a significant reduction of taxation charges in an array of areas, we have been enjoying successive budget surpluses, a dynamic growth rate of 4% and a drastic fall of unemployment. 

What is of equal significance is the fact that, following successive upgrades by international rating agencies, Cyprus’ economy is now rated to the investment grade, after being in the “junk” category seven years ago.

This demonstrates that the positive economic outlook of Cyprus enhances the trust of existing investors and at the same time sends a strong message to new investors to explore the significant potential of our country.

Our plan is to remain focused on maintaining and broadening the conditions under which surpluses and high growth rates can be generated, to continue promoting structural reforms and improving the country’s business environment.

We will continue to pursue the sound governance of public finances, complemented by a business-friendly investment environment, moving forward with a comprehensive government strategy for investment facilitation and fully reforming  the public service so that it facilitates growth in a modern, knowledge-based, scientific, high-tech and innovative economy.

Before concluding, I feel obliged to stress that the possibilities for engagement between our business communities are also positively reinforced due to the progressive advancement of the EU – Georgian relations, which we fully support.

The visa liberalization agreement, the EU – Georgia Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement,  strengthens our overall connectivity, people to people contacts and the political association and economic integration between the EU and Georgia, and, consequently, between our countries.

In concluding, I would like to once more extend my deepest appreciation to the organisers of the Forum. 

I wish to all every success in your deliberations and a successful conclusion of the Forum. I am confident that - as the most important components of our efforts for advancing a close economic partnership – you will identify a number of new joint entrepreneurial and business initiatives, as well as new areas for future co-operation. 

My Government stands ready to offer any assistance deemed necessary in order to facilitate your business plans and investment initiatives that would enhance competitiveness, development and sustainable growth in Cyprus and Georgia.

(RM/MG)