City of London hosts Cyprus-UK Business Forum

The opportunities and incentives that Cyprus offers potential investors were presented by a delegation of Cypriot officials, headed by the Minister for Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Yiorgos Lakkotrypis during a ‘Cyprus-UK Business Forum’ on Wednesday.

The event was organised at the City of London by the Ministry, the Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency (CIPA) and the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It attracted around 250 investors, financiers and professionals.

In his presentation Minister Lakkotrypis highlighted the investment opportunities in the energy and tourism sectors, as well as the opportunity offered by the decision to establish a Science and Technology Park in Pentakomo village in Cyprus. He also referred to shipping and the services sector. As he noted, all these sectors of the economy proved to be resilient because they were “never based on a bubble.”

He said that the positive growth of the first half of the current year indicates the end of recession, which was already less severe than expected. “The economic sentiment and confidence are improving significantly,” added Lakkotrypis, who then pointed to the forecasts of a 0.5% growth in 2015, 1.4% in 2016 and 2% in 2017.

Referring to the hydrocarbons discoveries in Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone and in the wider eastern Mediterranean, the Minister noted that in a region which is “on fire”, Cyprus is proving itself to be a base of stability, politically and economically. He made a special reference to the recent massive natural gas reserve discovered in Egypt’s EEZ, commenting that it creates new prospects and changes the landscape of what we knew about the region. As he explained, the combined reserves in the area could make the eastern Mediterranean “a truly alternative source of supply for the EU.”

As for Cyprus, he said that the government examines all the available exploitation options: “Cyprus is positioned to become a centre of activity in the oil and gas industry… The decisions that we will make about infrastructure now, will determine our role in the eastern Mediterranean in the next few decades.”

On tourism he pointed to figures from the beginning of the year until August which show 1.84 million arrivals, the best performance since 2002. He also presented statistical data which show significant year on year increases in arrivals from the UK (16.3%), Greece (41.6%), Germany (34%), Israel (46.2%) and France (30.6%). A decrease has been recorded in arrivals from Russia (19.6%) and Scandinavia (10.1%).

Summarising the National Tourism Strategy, he said it was based on combating seasonality, improving connectivity, achieving differentiation and competing on experiences.

In terms of investment opportunities in tourism, he presented plans for awarding one casino licence, as well as licenses for marinas and golf courses.

As far as the Science and Technology Park is concerned, he said the tender is expected within October, and that the government is seeking a strategic investor with relevant experience and know-how. As he added, there are tax, work permit and additional incentives to be offered to the awarded investor.

Lakkotrypis expressed his full satisfaction with the event, not only as regards the number of attendees, but mainly the quality of guests and the active interest they showed by asking for more details on specific investment opportunities.

The Chairman of CIPA Christodoulos Angastiniotis noted that today the Cypriot economy has tackled the crisis and emits confidence. “As we know, economy is all about confidence,” he commented, and added that the country is on the right track in terms of attracting investments. The President of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry Phidias Pilides said that the Cypriot economy has been performing much better than anticipated, putting the chamber at the disposal of anyone who wishes to do a business deal in Cyprus.

The High Commissioners of the two countries Euripides Evryviades and Rik Todd also briefly addressed the guests, the former describing the forum as an opportunity to demonstrate different dimensions of Cyprus and the latter saying he has been impressed by the “uniqueness” of the relationship between the two countries.

Peter Droussiotis, Chairman of the UK-Cyprus Enterprise Council said Cyprus is “a truly international destination” for investors and he also referred to “encouraging signs” about the island’s reunification prospect, a development that would enhance the economic outlook even further.

The forum also hosted presentations by experts on privatisations, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development activity in the region, the structure and function of the Cyprus Investment Funds Association (CIFA), as well as observations on setting up headquarter offices in Cyprus by professionals in shipping, accounting, financial and legal services.

Yiorgos Lakkotrypis also held a separate meeting with officials from BG Group, an oil exploration and production and LNG company, active in more than 20 countries. During the meeting the two sides discussed downstream, midstream and upstream options for Cyprus and Egypt.