CyprusProfile talks to Christodoulos Angastiniotis, Chairman Invest Cyprus about prospects for the Cyprus economy.
What key areas of opportunity or growth do you see in your sector, and what are your expectations for Cyprus in 2017?
2017 marks a new era for Cyprus. Having recovered remarkably quickly, exceeding international expectations, the Cypriot economy is now not only back on track, but on a steady positive path towards growth. Looking ahead, the forecasts on the expansion of Cyprus’ real economic activity are very positive, with projections showing a GDP increase of around 3% within 2017.
Numerous opportunities are just around the corner in a wide range of key growth sectors, both traditional and emerging, leading to a significant increase in FDI within 2016, which we expect to increase even further within 2017. In shipping for example, Cyprus has historically had a strong flag, since it offers a Tonnage Tax system with benefits for not only ship-owning, but also ship-management and crew handling. The recent privatisation of the Limassol port will boost the sector even further and will encourage more companies to choose Cyprus as a base or business location. Tourism and real estate have traditionally contributed significantly to the economy and continue to offer promising prospects, especially through the completion large-scale development projects, such as the Ayia Napa Marina and integrated casino resort. The national tourism strategy which has recently been carried out by an international firm of experts is also expected to enhance the touristic product with an emphasis on sustainability and high-quality, specialised services.
While these sectors have been key drivers of the economy for years, new emerging sectors, such as technology, research and innovation, education, and investment funds offer untapped potential for international investors. Research and development (R&D) has attracted increased interest in the last years, with the government offering a series of incentives for start-ups in the effort of fostering the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit. An important step towards cultivating a knowledge-based digital economy is the recent bid on a large Science and Technology Park, a clear indication that foreign investors recognise Cyprus’ potential in this area. The investment funds industry has also been expanding at a very promising pace, with Cyprus fast developing into a global investment funds and asset management domicile. The sector is expected to grow at an even faster pace in 2017, with plans for further enhancement of the legislative and regulatory regime concerning investment funds. As far as education is concerned, our efforts are focused on developing Cyprus as a major educational centre in the region, through the establishment of international universities’ branches.
Whilst reinforcing its competitive advantages and improving its business environment, Cyprus is also fast diversifying its economy, thus offering investors attractive and secure solutions in a variety of sectors. Capitalising on an ideal strategic location, sophisticated infrastructure and a high standard of living, and offering an effective and transparent tax and legal system, as well as an abundance of highly skilled human talent, Cyprus aims to continue on the path of sustainable economic growth for many years to come.
Our ultimate goal is not just to achieve an inflow of foreign capital into the country’s economy, but rather to attract investments of substance, which will create jobs and boost business and investment activity. Of course, a comprehensive and viable solution to the Cyprus problem, would enhance economic prospects and open new horizons in investment activity.
Invest Cyprus will remain in the front line of efforts to strengthen the country’s business environment and unlock the country’s full potential. We are confident that international investors acknowledge the quality of our country’s offering and will therefore continue to choose Cyprus as an investment location, contributing to an expanding economy and a bright future ahead.