Cyprus has the potential to become a key energy hub to service the needs of all the major players in the region, says Marios Eliades.
Can you give us an overview of your firm?
I started my career in 1971, as a senior partner of this firm. At that time, we were a locally focused law firm, but over the years we expanded increasingly into the foreign market. We have steadily grown over the years and now have ten practice lawyers, as well as supporting staff. We are also associated with an accounting firm, Euro Audit, and are in a strong position to provide all-encompassing services to our clients, be it legal or accounting.
What sectors show the most opportunity for growth in Cyprus?
The sectors that I believe have huge potential to develop in the coming years are, first and foremost the shipping sector, which has been growing, as well as the entire services sector, including financial, legal, insurance, and other services. These areas of services have a very bright future and this is something the government as well as the private sector have to focus on and try to promote as much as possible. As a country, we are investing heavily in the tourism industry, but I think that at the same time, the other services should be promoted with the same vigour in the years to come.
What niche services should Cyprus focus on to become a stronger player, and in what other ways can the country improve its status as an international and regional business centre?
Niches we should focus on are the shipping, fiduciary, legal and accounting services. These are all areas that we promote as much as possible. Another area where we could improve is in our institutional framework and the way we compete in a global market. It is important for the government to try to consistently upgrade the regulatory regime, in order for people in the international market to see and recognise more quickly the credibility of Cyprus as a business destination. If we place importance on improving the regulatory framework, it will also have a significant positive impact on foreign investment.
In the professional services sector there is an increase in regulatory pressure, how has this affected your firm?
There have indeed been several regulatory changes in the past years, but the cost to implement them and adapt our businesses is certainly a worthwhile investment and will benefit us in the long run. I remember back in the 1980s, I spent some time dealing with shipping, and the institutional framework was very poor at the time and there was a hot debate on whether we should upgrade the framework or leave it as it was. I was strongly promoting the upgrade, and today most would agree that it has been a sound and profitable investment.
What is the current state of the energy sector and how do you see it developing?
In my opinion, there are still huge untapped reserves in the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Irrespective of that, Cyprus becoming an energy hub is absolutely an area we should pay closer attention to and promote its development as much as we can. In the Eastern Mediterranean, be it in Israel, Lebanon or Egypt, there are definitely significant reserves, and Cyprus can play a major role in servicing this type of industry and the big energy companies from a safe and pro-business location.
How would you assess the current performance of the Cyprus economy?
I believe the economy is doing fairly well. What we have achieved in the last three or four years is a small miracle. We came out of the 2013 crisis in a fairly successful way. My expectations are that in 2017 the economic situation will definitely improve further. I have very high respect for the Minister of Finance of Cyprus, as he is doing a very good job considering what our country went through. The policies they have implemented are already producing great results, be it in the financial or banking sector.
What are your expectations for the country in the next five years?
It is always hard to make predictions. However, if things develop in a stable manner in both the region and in Europe, I believe Cyprus has a very good chance to become an even bigger success story. More so, if we manage to strike a deal with the Turkish Cypriots and solve the Cyprus Problem that has been going on for over 40 years now. This fact has hindered the prospect of developing the economy of Cyprus even further, and should a solution be reached, it would bring great benefits for our country and its business landscape.
Marios Eliades is the founder of M. ELIADES & PARTNERS L.L.C, Advocates, Tax and Business Consultants Nicosia, Cyprus. Eliades studied Law and Economics at the University of Athens. He is also qualified in England as a Barrister-at-Law from Gray’s Inn London. He pursued post-graduate studies in Management at the European Institute of Business Administration (INSEAD) in France. He also successfully completed a post-graduate program on economic development and social reform at John F. Kennedy School of Government Harvard University, Boston U.S.A. Eliades has been practicing law in Cyprus for more than 35 years. Besides his professional career Eliades has had a long presence in the public life of Cyprus for more than 35 years. He served as Minister of Communications & Public Works of the Republic of Cyprus between 1978 to 1981. He is also Chairman Law Division, Geneva Group International since August 2007, Member of Executive Committee Geneva Group International since August 2007 and Chairman Maritime Institute of Eastern Mediterranean since February 2013.