With his visit to the UAE in full swing, President Nicos Anastasiades addressed state officials and business professionals at a dinner in Abu Dhabi last night, stressing that Cyprus really does mean business. He told the gathering:
“It is a distinct pleasure and honour to be at this dinner presentation on investment opportunities in Cyprus, organised by Logicom Group, with the support of the Embassy of Cyprus in Abu Dhabi.
I would like to thank you for your presence here, which demonstrates the traditionally close relations between the two countries and their respective business communities, and the mutual aspiration to enhance and further establish a solid and mutually beneficial economic partnership.
Cyprus and the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) traditional bonds of friendship are based on mutual trust and respect. This official visit is certainly timely, and demonstrates the importance my Government, and I personally, attach to concretely upgrading these ties. We are here to deepen and broaden our cooperation, particularly in the economic field.
Towards this end I am accompanied by my Minister of Finance, the Minister of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism, amongst others. Moreover, a dynamic and sizeable delegation of businessmen from both Cyprus and the UAE will participate on Wednesday in a Cyprus-UAE business forum in Dubai, with the aim to explore business opportunities and cooperation prospects.
Cyprus, as you are well aware, is a full EU member state, enjoying all the benefits that EU membership offers. It offers access to the European market as well as the certainty and credibility of the EU regulatory system. Cyprus may be a small country but the current transition in the economy offers a wealth of opportunities for growth and investment in an array of sectors such as energy, banking, shipping, tourism, stock exchange, large-scale development projects, as well as education and health.
Cyprus is succeeding in steadily overcoming the difficulties following the Eurogroup’s decision in March of last year. Key sectors of the economy, including tourism, shipping and business services, have proved to be significantly more resilient than originally expected. With determination, hard work, with the resilience and perseverance that characterises the Cypriot people, leaps of progress have been achieved. This is confirmed by three very positive reviews by the Troika.
Additionally, the Cyprus economy received its first upgrade in November by Standard & Poor’s following three years of successive downgrades, whereas the forecast for a quick recovery and return to growth as early as 2015 is supported by Troika’s own predictions. The IMF has underlined that Cyprus’ reform programme is on track while the EU has praised Cyprus for how it addressed the economic crisis and now refers to Cyprus as a model of economic recovery.
We have improved supervision and oversight of our financial sector, which constitute very important factors contributing to the stabilisation of our banking system. As a result, capital controls imposed following last year’s Eurogroup are gradually being lifted according to an agreed roadmap, leading soon to their full abolition. Let me emphasise that fresh money is not subject to capital restrictions.
Cyprus offers a competitive tax system and a low 12.5% corporate tax rate, an extensive network of Double Tax Treaties, including with the UAE. Additionally, it offers excellent professional and financial services, an enhanced regulatory framework, a strategic geographic location, a highly developed infrastructure, a variety of investment incentive schemes and a highly educated, qualified and multilingual workforce.
At the heart of the Government’s strategy for economic recovery is the pursuance of Foreign Direct Investment, and to this end all steps are taken to ensure that a more effective and business-friendly environment is facilitated to every extent possible. A series of facilitative measures have been adopted by the Government in this regard.
The Government is strongly committed to further enhance Cyprus’ strategic advantages, as part of the wider effort to restructure and revitalise the economy and the banking system, ensuring that Cyprus is a reliable partner to entrepreneurs and investors interested in expanding their operations to Cyprus and using it as a base to gain preferential access to key markets, including in Europe, Russia and Asia.
The Government has embarked on a privatisations plan, which covers a wide range of the state-owned entities performing commercial operations for over €1.4 billion. The portfolio of businesses which are being considered for privatisation have the relevant profile to render them potentially attractive to international investors such as funds based in the UAE. Cyprus could be the EU passport to banking, telecommunications and air transport.
The discovery of natural gas reserves within Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone creates remarkable prospects for investment and co-operation in the energy sector and auxiliary services and has created a new impetus in encouraging opportunities for cooperation between Cypriot and foreign businesses.
Cyprus remains a superb tourist destination and it is my Government’s priority to enrich and diversify our touristic product for Cyprus to be a year-round destination. It is worth mentioning that through coordinated actions we achieved to close 2013 with an overall increase in tourists of more than 9%.
Cyprus is succeeding. Doing business is a priority. My Government, and I personally, are committed and determined to further facilitate and enhance cooperation between our countries, and our businesspeople, in every way possible.”