New York.- (GreekNewsOnline)
W are on our way towards the full re-establishment of confidence in Cyprus by the international investor community, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said on Wednesday speaking at the Capital Link “Invest in Cyprus” Forum, in New York City. The event was attended by almost 500 people, representing banking, investment, shipping and other industries from the United States, Cyprus, Greece and elsewhere.
Economy, Energy and Transportation Ministers Haris Georgiades, George Lakkotrypis and Marios Demetriades also addressed the forum that was organized by the Cyprus Union of Shipowners, the Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency and the Chambers of Commerce of Cyprus and the US. Other officials as well as businessmen also spoke at the forum from:
3 of the largest Cypriot banks: Bank of Cyprus, Cooperative Central Bank, Hellenic Bank and Citi, also
the 4largest international auditing and consulting firms: Ernst& Young, Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG and also McKinsey&Company
International giants in the energy sector: ENI, Delek Group &Avner Oil & Gas Exploration, Exxon Mobil, Noble Energy,
US investors with active presence in Cyprus: Third Point, Invesco Private Capital / WL Ross &Co., Spectrum Gaming Capital
Major shipping companies: The Cyprus Union of Shipowners and Safe Bulkers, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange
Major shipping industry participants: Columbia Ship management, Tototheo Group;
Cypriot American Entrepreneurs with investment presence in Cyprus : Nikos Mouyiaris, DinosIordanou, Andreas Kramvis, John Televantos.
In his address US Deputy Assistant Secretary Jonathan Cohen commended Cyprus` achievements as regards the recovery of its economy, while referring to the Cyprus problem he said that a settlement would be beneficial not only for Cyprus but for Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean region as well.
He noted that if hydrocarbon reserves in Cyprus EEZ are strategically exploited this will be beneficial for all the region, will enhance political cooperation, will bring stability and will develop prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Cohen said that the US wants to further reinforce in all fields its relations with Cyprus, which is a reliable strategic partner for his country.
Anastasiades emphasized the government`s strong commitment to continue working, so that Cyprus remains firmly on a path of sustainable growth and to facilitating investment and economic opportunities, and warmly welcomed the presence and involvement of American companies – Noble and now the energy giant Exxon-Mobil – in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone, working in partnership with the Cyprus government for the exploitation of hydrocarbon reserves.
He stressed that “our vision is to transform the Eastern Mediterranean to an energy hub that would contribute to the region’s stability, through, among others, the diversification of energy sources and routes” and assured the business community of the United States that Cyprus will remain a reliable partner and will retain its position as a significant international business hub and investment destination.
Anastasiades assured that “we are vigorously working on building more tangible economic and investment relations” between Cyprus and the US, noting that “a bilateral US-Cyprus dialogue is in progress, in order to address a range of issues of economic cooperation, particularly as regards US investments in Cyprus. During the last few years, we have seen significant US investments in Cyprus and our aim is to facilitate even more of them,” he added, assuring that his government stands ready to offer all the help and assistance deemed necessary and will facilitate every business and investment initiative involving the US.
Referring to the Cyprus problem he stressed that despite the difficulties being faced, the Greek Cypriot side and he personally remain wholly dedicated to continue working tirelessly and with determination towards reaching a functional, viable and lasting settlement, to the benefit of all Cypriots, adding that he has no doubt “that the United States –recognizing the benefits that a settlement on the Cyprus problem would deliver not only for Cyprus, but also for the region and the international community- will continue exercising its influence towards Turkey to deliver concretely on its verbal commitment to positively contribute to the negotiating process.”
In his remarks the President of the Republic Nikos Anastasiades noted that the diplomatic relationship which the US and Cyprus enjoy at a bilateral, regional and multilateral level is at an excellent level, nonetheless “we should all aspire to further strengthen our partnership through expanding and enhancing our cooperation in key economic fields, such as banking and finance, shipping and transportation, energy and tourism.”
Referring to the situation of the Cypriot economy, he noted that the deep recession and the severe financial crisis are fortunately behind us, adding that Cyprus is now one of the fastest growing economies of the EU, currently just short of 3% of the GDP.
He stressed “the significance of the presence of foreign investors in our banking sector, including notable investor presence from the US, which we welcome and support.”
He went on to say that the above-mentioned positive economic developments are evidently demonstrated by the successive upgrades of the sovereign rating by international agencies of Cyprus` economy and investment potential, the last one only taking place last week, which have placed Cyprus, for the time-being, just one notch below investment grade.
He stressed that “taking into account that even before I assumed office our economy was 12 notches below investment grade and at a junk rating, I can proudly declare, without, of course, neglecting the need to stay clear on our path, that we are on our way towards the full re-establishment of confidence towards Cyprus by the international investor community.”
Anastasiades said that this achievement should be attributed to the government and the relevant Minister of Finance for the prudent macro-economic management, the political parties’ constructive support, which defied political expediencies, and, above all, to the people of Cyprus for their sacrifices, hard work and faith that better days were to come.
The President noted “the comparative and, yet unfulfilled by the US, advantages that our economy has to offer, and particularly the significant potential in sectors like Tourism, Shipping and Logistics, Business and Financial services” as well as “the prospects of new sectors, on which Cyprus is set to play an important role, including the development of the Funds Industry, the Energy Industry and relevant auxiliary services.”
He emphasized the strong commitment of the government to continue working, so that Cyprus remains firmly on a path of sustainable growth and to facilitating investment and economic opportunities, noting that to this end, “we have undertaken a series of relevant measures, such as: Providing corporate tax incentives; reducing the time framework for issuing planning permissions; broadening the range of permitted land development for large projects, including golf courses; increasing building coefficients; and facilitating joint tourist developments, such as condo hotels.”
“We recognise the importance of maintaining sound public finances. We are committed to maintaining a stable and competitive tax regime. We shall continue to invest in our human capital, supporting higher education and research. And we shall continue to stand by the local and foreign business community,” Anastasiades said, noting that “in this regard, we fully acknowledge the need to remain focused on the necessary structural reforms.”
He remarked that a significant number of them have already been completed, “whilst at the same time we are at deliberations with the House of Representatives and social partners towards adopting further reforms that will enable Cyprus to enhance even further its position as a business friendly economic and investment destination.”
“We are also in the final stages of strengthening the legal framework for the investment funds sector, which is expected to enrich the financial services industry in Cyprus and the growth of the economy,” he noted.
Anastasiades said that Cyprus` partnership with the US has evolved into one of strategic depth, particularly when dealing with issues of regional and global concern.
“Our relations have notably progressed via our joint commitment, among others, in the fight against asymmetric threats, such as terrorism, illegal drugs, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and development of nuclear weapons. In this respect, I avail myself of this opportunity to express my government’s and personal eagerness to work closely with the new US administration, in order to explore new areas of beneficial cooperation; as well as deepen and enhance our existing partnership for the mutual benefit of our two countries and peoples,” he added.
He noted that “our desire and wish is to encourage and support investment and commercial exchanges in both directions, taking into account the fact that Cyprus, despite its small size, is a major center of international business, but also a base, from which inroads into regional markets can be achieved.”
Anastasiades said that the unique combination of EU membership, the Anglo-Saxon legal framework, the beneficial tax regime and the highly-skilled workforce contribute to Cyprus’ establishment as an attractive investment destination; offering significant opportunities and easy access not only to European markets, but also to those of North Africa, the Near and Middle East, the Gulf region and Asia.
“To this end, being fully aware of the strict regulatory framework of the United States and the need for transparency and accountability in all investment and business transactions, I am pleased to note that recently our two countries have signed the intergovernmental Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FACTA),” he added, and assured American entrepreneurs that the Republic of Cyprus provides investment security and protection, in full compliance with European and international standards.
He expressed the belief that initiating discussions to conclude additional bilateral agreements in fields such as air services, maritime and tourism, will significantly contribute to the further strengthening of our institutional framework of cooperation.
Referring to the energy sector, Anastasiades warmly welcomed and expressed appreciation for the presence and involvement of American companies –Noble and now the energy giant Exxon-Mobil- in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone, working in partnership with the Cyprus government for the exploitation of hydrocarbon reserves.
“This not only marks a new era for our bilateral relations, but it is also a tangible sign of confidence in the role of Cyprus as a reliable regional actor, who has adopted a stabilizing role in an otherwise volatile region,” he added.
He said that cooperation in this field can be the guiding-doctrine for the resolution of the region’s political problems, contributing to conditions of peace and security.
Anastasiades noted that Cyprus` geostrategic role has been strengthened not only on energy-related matters. “A role, which we were able to assume due to the fact that we can pride ourselves as being widely acknowledged not to be guided by hidden agendas, but by a clear-cut honest foreign policy, which does not limit itself to rhetoric, but materializes intentions to real actions,” he added.
“A foreign policy, which is cultivated through exploring synergies, optimizing resources development and establishing interstate bilateral and regional cooperation with all our neighbours, with whom we share a perceptive affinity as regards the vision of a stable, peaceful and prosperous Eastern Mediterranean,” the President said.
Anastasiades referred to the visits he paid or received by almost all Heads of Governments of Cyprus` neighbouring countries, such as Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, noting that a visit will soon take place to Lebanon.
He said that such visits did not only lead to the institutional strengthening of our traditional historic bonds through the signing of important bilateral agreements, but to a strategic re-orientation of our partnerships.
Furthermore he remarked that “at a regional level, we have been pioneers in establishing trilateral regional cooperation mechanisms between Cyprus – Egypt – Greece and between Cyprus – Greece – Israel, aiming to further develop both our countries’ economic, energy, maritime, tourism ties and our overall diplomatic coordination on common challenges.”
At the same time, tripartite dialogues have already been initiated between Nicosia – Beirut – Athens and Nicosia – Amman – Athens and soon meetings at the level of Heads of Governments are expected to take place, Anastasiades said.
As regards the efforts to reaching a settlement on the Cyprus problem, he stressed that resolving the Cyprus problem would amplify even more our role in the region and would positively reinforce our ability to contribute in a positive and reliable manner to the collective efforts of addressing the multiple challenges of our region.
“In this respect, taking the opportunity of the presence of Mr Jonathan Cohen, I have no doubt that the United States –recognizing the benefits that a settlement on the Cyprus problem would deliver not only for Cyprus, but also for the region and the international community- will continue exercising its influence towards Turkey to deliver concretely on its verbal commitment to positively contribute to the negotiating process,” he added.