Cypriot Ministers of Energy, Commerce, Industry & Tourism Yiorgos Lakkotrypis and Health George Pamborides were the main speaker in business forum that took place in New York, last Thursday. Organised by the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) in cooperation with the US Chamber of Commerce the conference was entitled “Exploring international business opportunities in Cyprus or through Cyprus.”
President of Cyprus’ Natural Gas Public Company (DEFA) Symeon Kassianides, who also addressed the conference, presented the Cypriot programme for the import of liquefied natural gas. A round table discussion on the opportunities of business activities in or through Cyprus followed.
International businesses’ representatives operating in Cyprus also addressed the conference.
Aristos Constantine, the Trade Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus to the USA opened the event with welcoming remarks. Introductory remarks
George Mavroudis said the large participation is a strong proof of the mutual interest for cooperation between American and Cypriot companies. We all hope that the business meetings that will follow the Forum will lead to even more fruitful business relationships.
“Cyprus is the south-eastern outpost of the European Union and is situated in the crossroads of three continents. It is not surprising therefore that the island has developed into a business, services and investment center in that part of the world offering many advantages to companies and organizations that want to use it as a hub for their regional and even international operations.”
“Given its geographic position but also being a stable and secure country in an area which is suffering from political instability, Cyprus poses itself as the ideal gateway and a reliable base for conducting operations, investments and various trading activities in the European Union, the Middle East, North Africa and beyond.”
Lakkotrypis presented the positive track on which the Cypriot economy has been on after the recession of 2013 reaching expected to reach 3.6% GDP growth in 2017 according to projections.
Referring to Cyprus’ advantages, he spoke, among others, of its human resources, its geostrategic position, the modern and transparent legal and taxation framework in place, the large network of 62 bilateral agreements for the avoidance of double taxation, the business tax of 12.5%.
He also outlined the positive outcomes of Cypriot tourism in recent years and referred to Cyprus’ exports, shipping and the country’s financial system which has managed to overcome adversity although it is still trying to deal with the challenge of non-performing loans.
Cyprus’ advantages is the reason why many international companies choose to have the country as their base of operations, Lakkotrypis pointed out.
Referring to the discovery of natural gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean the minister said that in the next twelve months many activities will take place both in Cyprus and in the other countries in the region which are expected to give a clear picture of the actual reserves that can be tapped.
He expressed the view that the best opportunities for investment in the region are in the energy sector.
On the reserves discovered in block 12 of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), in the “Aphrodite” well he said it needs an investment of $2 billion. Constructing a pipeline from “Aphrodite” to Egypt or elsewhere would require an additional investment of $1 billion, he added.
On his part, Health Minister George Pamborides focussed on the cultivation and processing of medical hemp.
In statements, he noted that in view of the prospects ahead of the reform in the health sector in Cyprus, interest has been expressed in the area of cultivation and production of medical hemp and other areas.
Health is high in the priorities of investment funds globally and Cyprus cannot ignore this, Pamborides said. If the country wants to become known for medical tourism it should let investors know the advantages it offers in the sector of health, he added.
Investors have also shown an interest for rehabilitation centres as well as hospices.
He visits Yale University, on Friday, where he will have meetings with Rector Peter Salovey and the School of Public Health’s administration. He is also set to deliver a lecture to students on the health reforms in Cyprus.
A panel form of business executives doing business in Cyprus discussed with the audience the topic “Doing business in and through Cyprus: A window of opportunity”. The panelists were: Ruth Fornell, Senior Vice President, Global Professional Services, NCR, Richard Shearer, Director, Nearchi Investment, Haris Kakoullis, Partner, KPMG Cyprus and George Chr. Pelaghias, Senior Associate & Head of Compliance, Pelaghias LLC. Moderator was the President of the Cyprus – U.S. Chamber of Commerce Nicos Nicolaou.
LAKKOTRYPIS IN WASHINGTON
Cypriot Minister of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Yiorgos Lakkotrypis met in Washington with Sue Saarnio, State Department acting Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, with whom he discussed strengthening Cyprus’ energy security and investment opportunities for US companies.
Lakkotrypis, who is in the US for a meeting in New York focusing on international business opportunities in Cyprus or via Cyprus, said in statements that they discussed energy developments in the Middle East and the significance of energy reserves there for the energy security of Europe. The same issue was also raised by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a speech at the Wilson Centre.
“The message is that we have their support, but we still have work to do regarding briefing the State Department, where there is a new team on energy issues,” he said.
Lakkotrypis said Saarnio, who is standing in for Amos Hochstein who resigned with the change in administration, reiterated the longstanding US support to Cyprus’ sovereign right to explore and exploit its natural resources in its exclusive economic zone.
During his stay in Washington, Lakkotrypis met with members of the Atlantic Council think tank, to discuss energy matters and broader developments in the region.
“Everyone sees deterioration in US-Turkey relations and indeed believe they will worsen,” he said.
Lakkotrypis also met with an official from ExxonMobil.