The economic cooperation between Cyprus and the UAE currently focuses on many major goods, but the possibilities are significant and wide-ranging, rendering the UAE a strategic partner for Cyprus and vice-versa, says Yiannis Sophianos.
How would you describe the current trade relations between Cyprus and the UAE?
Trade relations between Cyprus and the UAE date back several decades, since the 1960s. In recent years, we have seen an increase in the bilateral relations between the two countries, with a number of official high-level visits at presidential, parliamentary and ministerial levels, aiming to further expand the economic and political relationships between the two.
During the recent visit to the UAE in light of the Dubai Expo 2022, by President Anastasiades and a delegation of government officials and businesspeople, the Ministers of Energy, Transport, Defence, Agriculture, Finance and the Deputy Ministers of Tourism, Innovation and Shipping held bilateral meetings with their UAE counterparts to discuss the enhancement of the relations between Cyprus and the UAE. The discussions focused especially on the areas of energy, trade and investments, tourism and culture, education, science and technology, as well as shipping and maritime transport. The recent agreements signed by President Anastasiades and the UAE government are expected to boost the financial and commercial relations between the two countries, with promising prospects for both.
What economic sectors in Cyprus have seen significant investment and participation from the UAE, and in what type of projects and activity?
Cooperation between the two countries covers a wide range of fields. Based on 2021 stats, Cyprus’ domestic exports to the UAE reached €10.2 million and re-export trade from Cyprus to the UAE reached €10.3 million. Imports to Cyprus from the UAE reached €57.9 million.
The economic cooperation between Cyprus and the UAE currently focuses on many major goods. The more major exports from Cyprus to the UAE regard agricultural products, pharmaceutical products and mechanical appliances, while the highest imports concern raw materials (e.g. aluminium), a wide range of electrical and electronic equipment, jewellery and precious metals.
Cyprus and the UAE have also agreed to coordinate on electricity networks, electricity markets, the integration of renewable energy sources, saving and efficiency. Furthermore, the two countries are considering investment opportunities in the hydrocarbons sector and renewable energy. Moreover, the investment authorities of the two countries are exploring potential opportunities for cooperation on large-scale investment projects for strategic economic sectors, such as tourism and hospitality, and other large infrastructure projects. It is important to note that the number of tourists arriving to Cyprus from the UAE in 2019, before the pandemic, exceeded 20,000 tourists. The possibilities are significant and wide-ranging, rendering the UAE a strategic partner for Cyprus and vice-versa.
What advantages does Cyprus offer specifically to UAE companies and investors?
Cyprus has an abundance of competitive advantages for businesses and investors from the UAE. The geographical proximity, along with the fact that Cyprus is an EU and eurozone member, make our island a valuable gateway to the EU. Moreover, Cyprus offers an attractive tax system, high-quality professional services and a modern infrastructure in transport, communications, and other sectors. All these factors, combined with the safe environment of the island, serve as benefits for every UAE company that would like to invest in Cyprus or cooperate with other companies that are based on the island.
What new prospects and opportunities could be cultivated to facilitate more business between Cyprus and the UAE?
Cyprus is focusing efforts on the development of emerging sectors, such energy, innovation, digital transformation, the private medical sector, private education, green and blue development, and sustainability, to name a few. All these areas offer significant investment opportunities that can be very beneficial to investors from the UAE, enhancing the financial and business cooperation between the two countries. Many of these emerging sectors, like energy, education, tourism, technology and shipping, are already included in the new agreements signed by the two countries.
How does the Cyprus-GCC Countries Business Association support and foster business links between the two countries?
The Cyprus-GCC Countries Business Association operates under the auspices of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry and fosters the expansion of business relations between the two countries in every possible way. Exchange of information and delegations, organisation of business forums and seminars, and other cooperation initiatives, aim at fostering and promoting the bilateral relations between Cyprus and the UAE.
The Association works in close cooperation with both governments and chambers to constantly improve the context and framework for a closer and more beneficial cooperation between the two countries, as well as the rest of the GCC members. As an association, our main aim is to promote and further strengthen the socioeconomic and trade relations between Cyprus and the GCC Countries, especially through the expansion of imports, exports and the provision of a wide range of services. It is an exclusive bilateral and regional business network with strategic connections and partnerships, for any Cypriot or foreign company interested in doing business in the respective countries.