Cyprus was, is and will continue to be a preferred jurisdiction for business and investment and all the comparative advantages that make Cyprus an ideal location have not changed, says Ambassador of Cyprus to China H.E. Ioanna Malliotis.
As the ambassador of Cyprus to China, in your view what are the key advantages Cyprus offers Chinese investors and which sectors provide the most opportunities?
All my efforts are focused on promoting and making my country more known in China. Cyprus has become the choice for investors looking for an ideal location for investment and conducting their business. It is also one of the most popular tourist resorts in the Mediterranean and is a great destination for relaxed and enriching holidays. Cyprus has a number of comparative advantages that cannot be easily matched by any other country. We have a modern, free market, service-based economy with solid overall economic performance. Cyprus’ economic performance, before the global financial crisis and the European debt crisis, has been remarkable. The current economic situation, although difficult, is already stable. Restrictions on bank operations are being eased and it is expected that all restrictions will be lifted very soon.
Capitalising on its strategic location, Cyprus has developed into a reputable international services hub, especially in legal, tax, accounting, investment, banking, telecommunications, tourism and shipping activities. And since Cyprus' accession to the European Union, its role as a business bridge between Europe, Asia and Africa has been further enhanced. We have an advanced transport and telecommunications infrastructure with state-of-the-art high-speed internet and mobile telecommunications, two international airports and the sea ports of Limassol and Larnaca are in close proximity to the Suez Canal.
Cyprus also has a highly developed socio-economic infrastructure, a stable political and legal system, a highly educated and qualified workforce, high level of education and is an ideal place to live. The favourable tax regime is another key reason Cyprus has attracted foreign investments and companies seeking a solid base for outward business into other countries. Our corporate tax rate is among the lowest in the EU and we have double taxation treaties with many countries, including China. Cyprus also facilitates investments by a fast-track process cutting down any bureaucratic delays and has introduced a variety of incentives. Among these is the government’s policy to provide favourable treatment in granting Permanent Residency to applicants who are third country citizens and want to invest in Cyprus as well as the Scheme for the Naturalisation of Investors in Cyprus by Exception, provided certain criteria are met.
Sectors providing the best potential at the moment are the real estate market, electricity and telecommunications projects, tourism and health industries and the energy sector. China can certainly help boost economic growth in Cyprus and we must keep developing our good economic and trade cooperation. Cypriot entrepreneurs can also explore the vast Chinese market, open company offices and establish partnerships with Chinese business, promoting and selling their products and services.
What are the most common questions, impressions or misconceptions about Cyprus that you face in China?
Chinese people are impressed and surprised by the numerous common things that exist between our two countries, such as our long history and rich cultural heritage, hospitable people, importance of the family and providing excellent education for our children, and combining food with any social activity. We also share the same date for both our national days, October 1st. A frequent misconception I have come across is that some Chinese believe that we do not have snow and thus there are no ski resorts in Cyprus. Perhaps this is due to the image of Cyprus as a country of perpetual sunshine. Cyprus is a beautiful country and has everything, including snow and ski resorts in the Troodos Mountains during winter months. Some frequent questions have to do with processing time, for example how long it takes to get a visa or a residence permit. We respond to all inquiries very quickly and a residence permit can be issued within two months, whereas a visa takes seven working days and provided all documents are in order it can be issued even faster.
How would you describe the investment and business relations of China and Cyprus and in these tough economic times, how do you reassure Chinese investors that Cyprus remains a reliable business hub?
Our good investment and business relations are demonstrating a rapid upward trend and the economic difficulties Cyprus currently faces has not had a negative effect on the interest of Chinese people and entrepreneurs to invest in Cyprus. This is because they have witnessed how quickly and decisively the Cyprus Government reacted to the economic problems of the country. Our Embassy and I personally have also worked hard to inform and reassure that Cyprus was, is and will continue to be an ideal location for business and investment and that all comparative advantages that make Cyprus an ideal location have not changed. In fact, the additional incentives that have been implemented contribute to making Cyprus an ever more attractive investment location and a reliable business hub.
How do you see the relations between Cyprus and China developing in the next five years? What message would you like to convey to the Chinese business community?
Cyprus and China have a long history of friendship and mutual cooperation, which began as far back as the 1960s during the first years of Cyprus’ independence. Since then, the relationship has matured further. Our relations are built on solid ground and I am confident that they will continue to flourish, deepen, and in the next five years they can reach even higher levels in all fields. To the Chinese business community, I would like to convey the message that Cyprus is an ideal location for business and investment and is a beautiful country to visit and live in. Cyprus is a hospitable place for enterprise, ideas, services, innovation, technology, trade and culture. It is a place where people feel welcomed and embraced. Once they have been to Cyprus, it is easy to see why they come back again and again and choose Cyprus as their preferred location for business.
H.E. Ioanna Malliotis was appointed Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China in February 2012. She joined the Cyprus Foreign Service in 1989 and has served in many European countries and worked with European Union affairs during her career. Before her appointment as Ambassador to China she was Chief of Protocol of the Republic of Cyprus. Ambassador Malliotis has written extensive doctoral examinations on international relations and comparative politics and concurrently also serves as Ambassador to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mongolia, the Republic of Korea and Japan. She was decorated a Knight of the National Order of the Cedar in 2010, an honour bestowed by the President of the Republic of Lebanon H.E. General Michel Suleiman.