Cyprus’s successful handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has put the island in a prime position to attract companies looking for a European base to access EU markets, an international summit was told.
The 5th Cyprus International Investors Summit, hosted by Invest Cyprus, the national investment promotion agency, was attended by more than 500 delegates from 45 countries.
The conference was held as Cyprus was ranked fifth in a Covid-19 Performance Index of almost 100 countries for its approach to the coronavirus pandemic, published by think tank Lowy Institute this week. Analysts said the index showed that countries with “smaller populations, cohesive societies and capable institutions” have a comparative advantage in dealing with a global crisis such as a pandemic.
In a keynote speech, the Minister of Finance, Constantinos Petrides reflected on “demanding and challenging times” and described how Cyprus was planning its recovery. “No doubt the pandemic has posed great challenges for all countries, with severe socio-economic consequences. In Cyprus, we implemented bold and strict measures of containment to protect citizens and the public health system. To alleviate the negative economic consequences, the government adopted a generous fiscal support package to assist businesses, employees and, as much as possible, to prevent job losses. The measures are temporary and include support to the health sector, income support for small businesses, tax relief and support to help tourism sector.”
The Minister said he expected Cyprus to rebound from the pandemic in 2021, buoyed by the positive fiscal performance of the island over the past few years and a substantial reduction of NPLs.
He added: “Despite the pandemic setback, our policy priorities remain the same. That is achieving macroeconomic stability, implementing prudent fiscal policies, ensuring financial stability and establishing a competitive, business friendly regulatory environment of high standards.”
The government’s broader strategy for economic recovery includes the implementation of much needed structural reforms for the development of key sectors, he said. “The European Commission’s Recovery and Resilience Facility will provide a mix of grants and loans to member states and this is expected to be instrumental in the rebuilding of our economy, including actions related to green and digital transitions. These additional funds which are up to 1.1bn euros will be key for our economy to become more competitive on the global economic stage.”
“Having a competitive economy is a catalyst for attracting corporations and investors that are looking for investment destinations which can provide high returns on their investments.”
“It is imperative we work together and combine forces in the post-covid era,” he said.
As part of package of incentives, foreign investors can take advantage of a favourable business environment and a new fast-track business activation mechanism together with newly approved immigration incentives for tech professionals which aim to support companies looking to relocate or expand in Cyprus. A key focus for Cyprus was developing its tech cluster, as well as maintaining the country’s compelling advantages as a location for regional headquarters for multinational companies. Companies with bases in Cyprus include eToro, Wargaming, ASBIS, and Amdocs, while Invest Cyprus said it was in discussions with a number of new companies looking to expand into Europe.
Michalis P Michael, Chair of Invest Cyprus said that competition for attracting foreign direct investment has become much more intense. “As one of the EU’s fastest-growing economies, Cyprus aims to relentlessly diversify its economy and upgrade its offered services and products, developing sectors that hold significant potential,” he said.
“Cyprus’ economy is characterised by its ability to adjust to changing circumstances and bounce back from external shocks, as it has proven throughout the years.”
George Campanellas, CEO of Invest Cyprus, said Cyprus’s membership of the EU and geographical position made it the ideal platform for channelling investments into the European Union. ”The benefits include access to markets, an excellent regulatory structure that is based on common law principle, an attractive tax regime, strong business support services and the low cost of doing business. Last but not least, it is the high quality of life”, he said.
He added: ‘Compared to other European countries, the cost of doing business is lower - lower labour costs, property costs and cost of living.
Speakers at the 5th Cyprus International Investors Summit also included Theo Parperis, Partner, Head of Tax & Legal, PwC Cyprus, Andreas Mercouri, General Manager, Trident Trust Company, Christophe de Bruyn, CEO, THR Innovative Tourism Advisors, Grant Johnson, Senior Vice President, Property General Manager, City of Dreams, Mediterranean, Cyprus, Polis Georghiades, CEO, Synlab Cyprus, Dr. Marinos Soteriou, Founder and Chairman of the Board American Medical Centre/American Heart Institute and others.