The Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), in cooperation with the Cypriot Commercial Center in the United States and the US Chamber of Commerce of Cyprus, organized a forum on 30 November in New York on “Exploring International Business Opportunities in Cyprus or Through of Cyprus”. The main speakers of the forum were the Minister of Energy, Commerce and Industry Yiorgos Lakkotropis and the Minister of Health, George Pamboridis. The conference was also attended by the President of the Public Gas Company Dr. Simeon Kassianidis, who presented Cyprus’ liquefied gas import program.
The works of the forum were opened by the Commercial Counselor of Cyprus in the United States, Aristos Konstantinou. The Vice President of the CCCI, George Mavroudis, and the President of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce, Haris Kakkoulis, also made opening speeches.
In his opening speech, Mavroudis said: “Your participation is a great proof of mutual interest in the cooperation between American and Cypriot companies. The current forum is dedicated to the business opportunities offered in Cyprus or through Cyprus, located in Southeastern Europe and at the crossroads of three continents”.
“Cyprus is one of Europe’s fastest-growing centers of investment funds and the business meetings that follow are an excellent step, which is why I am sure they will lead to increased cooperation and partnerships”, he added.
On his part, Kakkoulis stressed that the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce is eager to contribute to the further strengthening of economic and trade relations between Cyprus and the USA in all areas, including energy and health, and welcomed the presence of the two Ministers in New York.
In his speech titled “Cyprus Economy and Development Guides”, the Minister of Energy (photo), Trade and Industry referred to the state of Cypriot economy in the last seven years, which, from a negative growth rate of -6% in 2013 due to the economic crisis, now shows signs of rapid recovery and, according to predictions, its growth will reach 3.6% in 2017.
“To the question that many people ask us about how Cyprus managed to escape quickly from the recession”, said the minister, the answer “is that we have bet on the competitive advantages of Cyprus and we have achieved it”. Among the main advantages, Lakkotropis has raised its human resources, its geostrategic position, the modern and transparent legal and fiscal framework, the extensive network of 62 double taxation treaties, the corporate tax of 12.5%, the recent restructuring of the banking sector, the high quality of life and the low crime rate.
Special mention was made in the tourist product offered by Cyprus, which attracts more visitors every year. At the same time, he noted that the government has set the strategic restructuring of tourism up to 2030 and explained the feasibility of establishing a Deputy Ministry of Tourism, as well as the promoted bill on the new investment framework for tourism with the reduction of the bureaucratic burden.
Lakkotropis then focused on exports that have recorded an increase in recent years, Cyprus Shipping – which, he said, has the third largest fleet in the European Union and holds the 11th place in the global fleet in gross tonnage – as well as the signs of improvement of the financial system. Due to the many advantages that Cyprus has, many international companies are choosing it as their headquarters.
“The discovery of significant hydrocarbon reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean creates a unique opportunity for Cyprus to become an energy center in the region. The up to now discoveries amount to 2,000 billion cubic meters (bcm). To realize the size, Europe consumed 420 billion bcm in 2015. While many countries use findings for domestic consumption, the cypriot gas will be exported for the most part. We are still at the beginning. Over the next 12 months, many activities that will occur mainly in Cyprus and in the surrounding area will give us a clear idea of the deposits we have. The oil and gas industry will be an investment opportunity. The creation of a pipeline from the “Aphrodite” plot in Egypt or elsewhere will be an additional one billion investment”, the Minister for Energy said.
Concluding, Lakkotropis expressed optimism that Cyprus is moving in the right direction. “I do not want to paint you a ideal picture. We still have many challenges to face. Unemployment continues to be 10%, even higher for young people, and there are non-performing loans. But I believe we have followed the right direction and I can assure you that we will continue to follow it”.
On his part, Minister of Health, George Pamboridis presented the issue “Investment Opportunities in the Cyprus Health Sector Following the Recent Reforms” and made special reference to the field of hemp cultivation and production in Cyprus and the proposed bill that hs been tabled to the government.
“Health is anyway high on the priorities of investment funds worldwide, and Cyprus can not ignore this”, said the Minister of Health. He stressed that in order to put Cyprus on the map of medical tourism it must first make known to all investors of the benefits it offers to the health sector and added that efforts are being made to strengthen the legal framework for e-health.
The opening speeches were followed by a round table discussion on “Doing business in and through Cyprus: A window of opportunity”. The meeting was attended by NCR Senior Vice President, Ruth Fornell, Nest Investment Manager, Mufid Sukkar, President of the Chamber of Commerce, Haris Kakoulis, and Pelaghias LLC Chairman, George Pelagias, with the President of Cyprus -American Chamber of Commerce, Nikos Nikolaou, acting as coordinator.
In addition, on Saturday the Minister of Health visited Yale University at the invitation of its Rector, where he gave a lecture to the students, focusing on health reforms in Cyprus. At the same time Pamboridis will have a series of contacts with the Directorate of the School of Public Health./ΙΒΝΑ