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Evgenios Evgeniou: In today's conditions of instability and uncertainty, no one can be complacent

Welcoming guests to Invest Cyprus’ AGM, Chairman Evgenios Evgeniou noted that even while dealing with a particularly demanding international environment, Cyprus had in both 2022 and 2023 managed to attract significant investments in its priority sectors through targeted actions.

Speaking at the 20 November event, he also underlined that the island could not rest on its laurels and needed to continue to work to attract and retain investment, particularly in light of damaging reports tarnishing the island’s good name.

Going into further details, Evgeniou noted that dozens of international companies, mainly in the field of technology, and thousands of workers who have settled in Cyprus had created a growing ecosystem that already contributes directly and indirectly more than 10% to the country's GDP.

He also noted growth in sustainable investments especially in the areas of health, education, manufacturing, and in the field of green transition.

In the financial sector, meanwhile, and particularly in regulated services the number and value of investment funds increased significantly, with over ten billion euros under management of which three billion have been invested in the Cypriot economy, Evgeniou noted.

“For the reference year 2022 it is important to note that Cyprus according to Financial Times’ FDI Financial Intelligence recorded a 129% increase in foreign direct investment, the largest increase in the EU,” he underlined.

In addition, both the European Commission and the international rating agency Moody 's in their recent evaluations recognise the attraction of specialised companies as one of the factors that pushed the Cypriot economy to record growth rates above the EU average both last year and this year, Invest Cyprus’ Chairman went on to point out.

“Indeed, the Cypriot economy is showing resilience which is also reflected in the upgrades by the rating agencies,” he said.

However, Evgeniou also went on to note, “But in today's conditions of instability and uncertainty, no one can be complacent. That's why we must:

- Remain committed to fiscal discipline and the downward trend of public debt. So that there are the necessary margins for absorbing unexpected vibrations.

- Avoid decisions that disrupt the stability of the financial sector.

- Proceed at an even faster pace in the digital transformation of the state and the economy and

- Make full use of the resources of the Recovery and Resilience Fund, within the timetables.”

In relation to the transformation of the economy and the transition to a diversified and modern development model, there is the Vision 2035 action plan which is in the implementation phase, he went on to note, adding that the strategy of Invest Cyprus was fully aligned with the priorities of this plan.

“We aim to:

- Attract investments in sustainable projects, which contribute to the new development model and the sustainability of the country's economy.

- Develop Cyprus as a technological center and create other ecosystems of highly specialised companies.

- Consolidate Cyprus as a business center through the strategy of Head Quartering.”

“Our aim is the resilience of the economy in an environment of balanced growth and prosperity for all,” Evgeniou underlined.

Invest Cyprus’ Chairman also addressed the recent negative reports that have emerged about Cyprus.

“In the international competitive environment, the negative projection of the image of Cyprus undoubtedly affects the efforts to attract investments. So we need to act in a coordinated manner and move on two levels,” he said.

The first, he said, would be the further strengthening and effective implementation of the supervisory framework. The second would be at the level of making the world aware of the new development model that is being formed as well as what has been done and is being done in relation to the improvement of the supervisory framework.

Evegniou elaborated, “Specifically, to strengthen the supervisory framework and its implementation, the following needs to be implemented as soon as possible

- Creation of a single supervisory authority for all service providers.

- Establishment of a single authority for the application of sanctions

- Passing the legislation regarding investment screening

- Reforming the judiciary to drastically reduce the time it takes to hear cases and

- Strictly legislate or even ban surveillance technology companies from operating.”

In addition, as a sign of our commitment, the Cypriot democracy can take the initiative within the EU to proceed as soon as possible with the implementation of the new package of measures to combat money laundering and the creation of the competent European authority, he went on to suggest.

“At the local level supervisory authorities should have the means and powers required to carry out their work effectively.

Finally, there must be a full investigation of everything that has recently seen the light of day,” Evgeniou underlined, before noting, “At this point, it is important to recognise the progress that has already been achieved and is reflected in the positive evaluations of MONEYVAL and the international rating agencies as well as in the data concerning shell companies and our banking system.”

At the same time, the second level of the plan is required, he noted, describing this step as “a structured and coordinated international information and rebranding effort so that the name of Cyprus is gradually restored.”

“The Cabinet has already taken a relevant decision and Invest Cyprus, in cooperation with the presidency of the republic and the competent ministries, is proceeding with its implementation, which will also be done with the use of international consultants. An effort that will require an investment in money and time and requires methodicality, organisation and targeting. An effort in which everyone should participate. Government, parliament and private sector bodies,” Evgenios Evgeniou noted.

Invest Cyprus’ Chairman went on to note that the island is among the strong innovators of the EU. “It has 7 of the 37 EU centers of excellence. It is among the first countries with an ecosystem that helps the development of start-ups. Our universities have a high and upward trajectory in international rankings,” he pointed out.

Evgeniou also noted that, in the last three years, through the efforts of Invest Cyprus, “a growing ecosystem of technology companies has been created, significant investments have been made by notable international organisations in health and education, and well-known international companies have established a significant presence in our country.

With these as a basis, and with the implementation of the proposed changes to further improve the supervisory framework and with the new economic development model that is taking shape, we can improve the image of Cyprus within the framework of a structured communication effort.”

Evgeniou went on to point out that, in addition to attracting and facilitating investors, Invest Cyprus’ aim was for the investors who are already in Cyprus to remain and develop their activities and to be the best ambassadors of our country abroad.

“In this context, we organised a meeting of foreign investors with the President of the Republic and Ministers last June. At the meeting, investors had the opportunity to present their views on the issues that concern them. A new meeting is planned for January 25 at which the government will present the actions it has taken and what it is going to do next, moving from feedback to action,” he explained.

Thanking the government, other stakeholders, and the Invest Cyprus team, Evgeniou continued, “In close cooperation with the government, Parliament, business organisations and all relevant bodies, Invest Cyprus will continue in 2024, with targeted actions, to attract and facilitate investments as well as the constant contact with the investors who are already here.”

“Given that everything changes and the next day will never be the same as the previous one, we modernise, adapt the design, and diversify our methodologies to be even more effective. Our Board of Directors, Management, Employees and partners, all focus on the common goal which is to strengthen investments in Cyprus. Because this is how we invest in the future of our country,” he concluded.

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