Cyprus aims to enhance economic cooperation with the US, President says (pics)
13:34 - 30 November 2023
President of the Republic Nikos Christodoulides pledged that the government’s aim is to enhance economic cooperation, bilateral trade and investment, as well as people-to-people contacts with the US, noting the relations between the two countries are at a historic high.
Addressing the AmCHAM Cyprus Thanksgiving Gala Dinner in Nicosia on 29 November, he said that over the last years “we have witnessed the relationship between Cyprus and the US flourish in remarkable ways, in an array of important areas, including in security, energy, defense, as well as in areas such as education. I have said it before and I will repeat it tonight - our bilateral relations are at an historic high,” he added.
Noting that the relationship between Cyprus and the United States is a strategic one, Christodoulides recalled when during his tenure as Foreign Minister, “we signed the Statement of Intent which has been a basis of our cooperation, for our work in maritime security, counter terrorism, and non-combatant evacuation, and which we look forward to broadening."
He said Cyprus is a “stable, reliable, trustworthy and predictable partner of the United States, in a complex, often unpredictable region”, noting that business relations play a key and paramount role in solidifying the political ties between the two nations. Through shared economic interests and mutual investments, he said, “we build a foundation for enduring cooperation and growth. Towards this end, we strive to maintain sustainable and competitive economic conditions”.
Referring to the Cypriot economy, he said it has demonstrated flexibility and resilience in the face of disruptions and serious challenging external conditions. And is recording a 2.2% economic growth in the third quarter, well above the EU average and according to the European Commission Autumn Forecast, Cyprus is projected to be among the top 5 eurozone countries in terms of GDP growth in the 2023-2025 period, he added.
President Christodoulides said that “we aim to enhance the attractiveness of Cyprus as an investment destination and to create a conducive business environment that promotes transparency and efficiency” and for this reason the government is diligently working towards the implementation and gradual revamping of the existing Strategy for Attracting Investment and Talent, which was launched by the previous government in 2022.
Regarding the reputation of Cyprus with respect to money laundering and sanctions, President Christodoulides reiterated “in the strongest terms that for this Government the strengthening of the legislative and enforcement framework, is a matter of utmost priority”, adding that “the political commitment to demonstrate zero tolerance for practices that expose Cyprus internationally, is real, it is tangible and it is unequivocal” and that the government is working tirelessly in promoting actions to restore the reputation of Cyprus as a credible business and financial center, including the Council of Ministers’ decision of June, consisting of a comprehensive package of measures towards this end.
As part of his resolute intention to address decisively the reputation of Cyprus with respect to money laundering, is the team of experts that will come from the USA. President Christodoulides said he was glad that the government of the United States immediately responded positively to his request, in the coming days to aid the work done in this regard.
President Christodoulides added that“as we diligently strive to foster a stable and thriving economy, we are concurrently undertaking initiatives to strengthen and expand our economic relations with the United States”, adding that an Integrated Action Plan on Economic Diplomacy has been set in place, under the coordination of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the U.S. Embassy in Nicosia, which is being implemented.
One of its flagship actions is the accession of Cyprus to the U.S. Visa Waiver Programme, which, he said, “we believe will unlock untapped potential” as the removal of visa requirements will facilitate efficient cross-border business activities, fostering trade relations, investment opportunities, and collaboration between Cypriot and American enterprises.
Expressing optimism that there will be a successful outcome soon, in 2024, President Christodoulides said that amidst these positive developments there is a steadily increasing flow of US investments into Cyprus as “this is a clear indication of the confidence that American businesses have in the economic potential of Cyprus. We are committed to building on this momentum and further increasing US investments in our country”. He added.
In her remarks, US Ambassador Julie Fisher said that her country “is grateful for the dynamic and growing relationship with the Republic of Cyprus. This relationship has never been stronger, largely due to the deep commercial and economic ties between our two countries, ties that all of you continue to forge and ties we seek to develop further,” she added.
She said since the President took office, the US has followed closely his directives to strengthen banking and legal sector integrity, to combat corruption, and to fully align Cyprus with the transatlantic Consensus countering Russia — all steps aimed at building a more robust, resilient economy and attracting high-quality investment both today and in the future. Your commitment to addressing lingering reputational issues, and bolstering economic growth is clear”, the Ambassador said, adding: “Mr. President, you can count on the United States to partner with Cyprus to meet these ambitious expectations.”
The US diplomat said that “there can be no doubt that Cyprus is an inviting market for American tech companies looking to commercialize research, nurture innovation, and encourage entrepreneurship. Issues like advancing the digital transformation of the island, unleashing an information communication technology ecosystem, harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to drive growth, and tackling cybersecurity threats are of critical importance to American and Cypriot businesses alike,” she noted.
Fisher also said U.S. firms are leading the development of offshore hydrocarbon resources around the island and in the Eastern Mediterranean and “if done right, these investments will contribute to both Europe's energy security and the green transition, counter Russia's weaponization of energy, and create opportunities for Cyprus to partner with other nations in the region for economic growth”.
The US Ambassador said that overcoming incredible odds, Cyprus has built one of the largest maritime fleets in the world, and developed multiple industries that fuel its burgeoning economy. Cyprus' EU accession, and its deliberate steps to recover from the financial crisis, shaped the Cypriot business environment of today, she noted.
She also said that “the United States shares Cyprus' vision of diversifying, growing, and strengthening the business climate. American investment brings more than simple financial gain; it forges stronger bonds of partnership, creates synergies and increases economic resilience. And as our two nations work together to ease human suffering in the midst of the Israel-Hamas conflict, we see all too clearly the uncertainty and volatility in the region. Our shared efforts shape geopolitical relationships and prospects for peaceful resolutions. Cyprus's economic vitality is a stabilizing force in the Eastern Mediterranean”, she concluded.
On his part, Georgios Georgiou, AmCHAM President, said that Amcham Cyprus, is an organization that exclusively focuses on improving business relations between USA and Cyprus and that US companies have been investing in Cyprus for many years contributing to the economic growth of the country. He pointed out that in recent years, the investments in Cyprus have intensified and are notable in many sectors of the economy like Energy, Technology, Healthcare, Transportation and Real Estate.
The AmCHAM President recalled some of the recent activities of of AmCHAM, and expressed satisfaction for the fact that the government has made the Visa Waiver Program approval as a strategic priority and indicated that along with easing the Visa application process, direct flights can be an essential enabler to facilitate tourism, fly and cruise, business, and transit passengers bringing the United States closer to Cyprus.
He also noted that as next year marks 40 years for double tax treaty signature between Cyprus and the USA, “it is time to update the agreement”. “This is not an easy project but we see even small countries signing such agreements recently” he said.
Addressing the President of the Republic, Georgiou said that the Cyprus Plan for the United States, listing concrete actions on improving bilateral relations, the prioritization for the Visa Waiver program in the past years, and now becoming a strategic priority for the government, and the excellent relations at political level as well as the Partnership for Peace program, are key for the way forward.