Address by the Minister of Transport Mrs Vassiliki Anastassiadou at the “Cyprus-Arab Business Conference and Exhibition”
It is truly a great honour to be addressing “Cyprus - Arab Business Conference and Exhibition”, organized by the Cedars Pavillion with the support of the Larnaca Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
A Conference, which brings together officials and businessmen from the Arab States of the Middle East, the Gulf and Cyprus, a conference aiming above all in facilitating the fostering of business cooperation between Cyprus and the Arab world.
I wish to thank and congratulate the organizers for this timely and important gathering. I would also like to welcome all of you, especially those who came from abroad, to participate as speakers or attendees in this very important Congress, the deliberations of which will make an important contribution in the attempt to further enhance the commercial and economic relationship between Cyprus and the Arab World.
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 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.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Taking this opportunity I would also like to stress the geostrategic value of Cyprus as a bridge between the region and Europe. The starting point to this premise, is none other than Cyprus’ geography. And while more often than not, our geography has been more of a curse, our determined efforts in the last few years have been to reverse this narrative, and turn our geographical position into a blessing, putting it at the forefront of our geostrategic value.
Recognising the rising importance of our immediate neighbourhood, and based on the long-standing close relations Cyprus enjoys with its neighbours, we have in recent years re-oriented our foreign policy. One of the core pillars of this re-orientation is that we have been actively and methodically enhancing and expanding our ties with the countries of the Middle East and the Gulf region. Our partners in the region see Cyprus as a credible, trustworthy, reliable voice between them and the Union. Cyprus, as the EU Member State at the heart of the Eastern Mediterranean, has always supported more active involvement and the EU`s engagement in the region, as well as, the deepening of Euro-Arab cooperation.
I am confident that the distinguished speakers will share with you the wealth of their knowledge and expertise as well as their ideas, suggestions and thoughts in this respect I would like to wish you all an enjoyable and productive stay in Cyprus.
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