New York.- By Apostolos Zoupaniots
Photos: Dimitrios Panagos
The opportunities offered by Cyprus as a global business and investment destination was presented to international investor and economic stakeholders, during the 2nd Invest in Cyprus Capital Link Forum held at The Metropolitan Club in NYC, on Friday, September 28, in the presence of Cyprus’ President Nicos Anastasiades.
Cyprus’ Minister of Finance Harris Georgiades, Minister of Energy Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, Deputy Minister of Shipping Natasa Pilides as well as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Matthew Palmer, also participated and addressed the Forum.
The Forum was organized with the active support and involvement of the Cyprus Union of Shipowners and it was also attended by business executives from the banking and shipping sectors from Cyprus, as well as representatives of American energy companies.
The conference featured the developments and reforms in the Cypriot economy and the Cypriot government’s program for the economy and investments. It will also feature political and business leaders and decision makers from the public and private sectors.
Nicholas Bornozis, President of Capital Link, offered welcoming remarks, followed by Michael Michael President of the Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency.
The topics included:
- The Economy of Cyprus – Developments & Outlook
- Banking & Financial Services
- Cyprus as a Regional Energy Hub Remarks
- Cyprus as a Regional Energy Hub – Business &
Investment Opportunities in Energy
- Cyprus as a Regional Maritime & Logistics Industry Hub
- The Shipowners’ Perspective – Maritime Expertise and
Infrastructure in Cyprus – Cyprus as an Operational Hub
The President of Cyprus Union of Shipowners Andreas Hadjiyiannis introduced the President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades, who presented in his remarks the comparative advantages of Cyprus as a business and investment destination. The President was the keynote speaker during the Forum’s luncheom.
In his speech, President Anastasiades said his government was “fully committed to facilitating business and investment collaborations between our two countries, in order to further widen and deepen our cooperation in all envisioned fields and increase the inflow of direct investments from the US to Cyprus.”
He added that “one of the main priorities of our foreign policy remains the further enhancement of our relations and cooperation with the United States.”
Referring to the comparative advantages of Cyprus as a business and investment hub, President Anastasiades said, according to a press release issued by the Presidency, that they “have established our country as a major centre for International Businesses” and “have been further reinforced leading to a number of new and substantial investments in the fields of banking, energy, shipping, telecommunications, real estate and tourism, with new sea ports, Marinas and the largest integrated casino resort in Europe under construction.”
“On behalf of the Government, I would like to emphasize that we remain committed so that Cyprus remains firmly on a path of sustainable growth and will continue facilitating investment and economic opportunities,” he assured.
Referring to cooperation in the field of energy, President Anastasiades expressed “our deep appreciation for the presence and involvement of American companies – Noble and now through the energy giant Exxon-Mobil – in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone for the exploitation of hydrocarbon reserves.”
“This does not only mark a new chapter in our bilateral relations, but it is also a tangible sign of trust to the reliable, predictable and stabilizing role we have assumed in our volatile neighbourhood,” he said.
Regarding the Cyprus problem, President Anastasiades said “what is of course required is to create those necessary conditions that will allow the dialogue to resume on the basis of good will and constructive stance from all stakeholders, particularly by the Turkish side, in order to safeguard the positive outcome of the negotiations.”
Speaking during the official lunch of the 2nd Capital Link Investment Forum, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Palmer said that US was seeing the Republic of Cyprus as an important partner in its wider region and was working to build a stronger political relationship with the country. Palmer said that the deepening of trade and investment links were offering new opportunities and were intensifying financial engagement, while he described Cyprus as a “very attractive investment destination”.
He particularly stressed Cyprus opportunities in the field hydrocarbons and the importance of the discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean, saying that the energy sector could connect and integrate the region, improve economic and political cooperation and bring the stability that the Eastern Mediterranean needs.
He also reaffirmed that US was supporting the Republic of Cyprus` rights to its Exclusive Economic Zone, but noted however that the oil and gas reserves of the island, should be fairly shared between the two communities in the context of a comprehensive settlement.
Palmer also said that US companies had a role to play in promoting Cyprus as an investment destination and were playing a key role in building closer trade ties. As he said US companies had an increased presence in areas such as energy, insurance, financial services, franchising and tourism. According to the Department of Commerce, the outward US direct investment in Cyprus was $ 1.6 billion in 2016.
Palmer said that an investor should prefer Cyprus for the liberal investment climate, professional skills and relatively low labor costs. He added that continuing economic recovery in Cyprus would create greater opportunities for US exports in the future.
The US official said that a lasting and viable settlement of the Cyprus problem greatly facilitates the development of its resources, ensuring that all Cypriots would benefit. For that reason, he said, the US government strongly supports a bi-zonal bi-communal federation.
Speaking about strengthening US political cooperation with Cyprus, he mentioned the increased visits by US officials from the State, Finance and Defense Departments and stressed the strong bilateral co-operation to counter terrorism, prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the security in the sea and border protection.
Speaking to CNA, on the sidelines of the forum, the Minister of Finance stressed the latest positive developments concerning the Cyprus economy, following the upgrading to the investment grade, the successful access to international markets and the confirmation of the positive growth rate, saying that it was important to keep up to date the international investors and especially Wall Street.
He also highlighted the importance of the presence of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer, who spoke at the conference, and the support of the US administration to the efforts of Cyprus.
“It is especially important to build even closer and economic relations with the US. And through this relationship, the emergence of the regional role of Cyprus, gives a different dimension to the country`s development policy, ” he added.
In his speech, President Anastasiades assured the investors for Cyprus’ strict compliance by with the regulations for the prevention of money laundering.
Answering a relevant question, the Finance Minister said there should be more effort to explain the change in banking processes that has taken place during the last years.
“The problems related to the reputation and reliability of the banking system belong to the past,” noted Georgiades.
In his speech at the Forum, the Minister of Commerce, Energy and Tourism Yiorgos Lakkotrypis presented Cyprus’ vision and strategy of Cyprus, in its quest to become an energy hub in the Eastern Mediterranean region.
Speaking to CNA, Lakkotrypis pointed out that international and American companies have shown great interest in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone .
“As we progress and we have more discoveries, such as the Calypso deposit, there is even more interest in both the research program and the infrastructure that should be created in the near future,” he added.
During his stay in New York, Lakkotrypis attended the meetings of President Anastasiades with Israel’s company Delek Drilling. He also attended a meeting with top executives of Exxon Mobil together with Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides, and said that he would have another meeting with the US energy giant before he leaves New York. As the Minister said, the meetings were part of the effort for coordination with Exxon Mobil on its Cyprus’ research programme and with Delek Drilling on the exploitation of Cyprus’ “Aphrodite” field.
He also said that he had a very good meeting with Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Francis Fannon.
The Deputy Minister of Shipping Natasa Pilides, presented Cyprus as a world-class shipping destination that has many opportunities for companies operating in the sector.
As she told CNA, during the conference she explained the vision of the Deputy Ministry of Shipping and the innovations that would make Cyprus more competitive.
The attraction of more companies, the expansion of relations and the presentation of the Cyprus registry, were among the direct goals of the Deputy Ministry, as Pilides explained.