Insights | 18 December 2023

Irfan Siddiq OBE , British High Commissioner to Cyprus

The strong and multifaceted relationship between Cyprus and the UK will continue to support and develop trade and commercial partnerships, which in turn will offer tangible economic and financial benefits to the people of both countries.

How would you describe the current bilateral relations between the UK and Cyprus?

The relationship between the UK and Cyprus has always been a very rich and active one. It is founded on historic links, strong people-to-people connections, an exceptionally effective government-to-government cooperation, as well as flourishing business and trade ties.

Working together on issues of common interest and mutual benefit has been a priority for both countriesThis is demonstrated through a number of activities, for example our joint commitment to defence with visits by the Royal Navy’s flagships Queen Elizabeth and HMS Albion, and joint exercises with the Cypriot National Guard. We also have shared values on human rights, in particular we signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together to protect LGBT+ rights last year. And we are working together closely on specific issues such as support for victims of rape and sexual assault through training visits by professionals from the UK. But there is more we can do together to benefit both our countries – particularly in the fight against climate change, security, and trade. 

What significant key projects are there between the UK and Cyprus at the moment, and what kind of projects or cooperation would you like to see developed in the future?

As mentioned, the collaboration between our two countries covers all sectors and activities of common interest. This is reflected in the memorandum of understanding signed just a year ago between the UK and Cyprus. Through this agreement we enhance our bilateral collaboration in matters of foreign policy and security as well as economic, trading, and educational activities between the UK and Cyprus. There is currently close collaboration in implementation of the sanctions against Russia, the UK government is providing support to Cyprus in its effort to improve its sanctions enforcement capacity and capability. There is similar collaboration in projects such as justice reform and the e-government project managed by the Deputy Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digital Strategy. We are also working with the Deputy Ministry for Shipping to take forward priorities such as green shipping. These and other sectors such as green energy, smart cities, health, and education are areas where there is a lot more work to be done in both countries and we are looking forward to working together to achieve positive results.

Cyprus has been a convenient base for many British companies for decades, in your view what factors have contributed to the appeal of Cyprus as a business jurisdiction? 

The Cyprus market offers advantages to British companies and at the same time the UK is an attractive market for Cypriot companies to develop and grow their business activities. There are some common positive factors in both markets such as the use of Common Law, availability of well-trained and highly educated labour force and of course the use of the English language. For UK companies, Cyprus can also offer easier access to regional markets in the East Mediterranean and the Middle East and of course to EU markets. Cyprus, like the UK, is a favourable tax jurisdiction. So, for UK firms a presence in Cyprus is of course beneficial and collaboration and joint ventures between companies in the two countries offer more benefits to both business communities. 

What kind of new opportunities does Cyprus offer UK business or investment, and vice versa? 

UK companies and business organisations have traditionally been trading and investing in Cyprus in all sectors of the economy. There is of course more activity in some sectors like financial services, hospitality and tourism, real estate, shipping and education. Moving forward, and considering the changing business and political environment, more opportunities are developing in sectors like technology, AI and digital transformation, green energy and sustainable environment, smart cities, healthcare and education. These sectors may offer opportunities in both markets but perhaps at different stages of development, therefore, Cyprus and the UK may both benefit from the experiences and expertise of companies working in these sectors in both countries. Collaboration is of the essence for progress and mutual gain.

What type of collaboration could be fostered in the future between the two countries to deepen economic relations? 

As mentioned, there are opportunities for further business and trade activities in multiple sectors. More and new opportunities will come from sectors that are developing fast and are supported by political decisions and government policies such as environment policies, clean energy policies, sustainability and smart cities to name a few. Also, the need to use new and advanced technologies and the progress of AI will offer significant opportunities for investment and trade collaboration between the two countries. Improving medical and social care services will enhance business collaboration, sharing of expertise, as well as expand the training and education offer which could be delivered in collaboration with the educational institutions in both countries. Overall, the business opportunities are available and increasing and the business communities in our two countries should move fast and effectively to take full advantage. We as HMG, will continue to offer guidance and support to UK businesses where needed and of course I am sure that the Cyprus Government will aim to do the same.

How do you see the relationship of the two countries developing in the future?

It is clear that the overall relationship, including of course the business and trade links, will continue to flourish and benefit both countries. The strong and multifaceted links will continue to support and develop this relationship. Trade and commercial collaboration and partnership will offer tangible economic and financial benefits to the people of both countries.

Cooperation Partners
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  • Logo for Association of Cyprus Banks
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