The Cyprus- Chinese business ties have entered a new development stage, Chinese trade officials told a Business Forum organized on Wednesday by the Chinese Business Investors Association.
Addressing the forum, Acting President of the Republic, President of the House of Representatives Demetris Syllouris said Cyprus greatly values the partnership with China and is committed to further upgrade and enrich the business links between them.
“As the president of the House of Representatives of the Republic of Cyprus, I would like to reassure you that the Parliamentary Committees will continue to work on new joint initiatives for future cooperation between Cyprus and China,” he said.
On behalf of the President of the Republic, the Director of his office, Michalis Sophocleous referred to the reforms implemented by the government since the 2013 financial crisis or those reforms which are in at advanced stage of implementation, including public finances management, the pension system, bold welfare reform, better management of state property, adding that other growth-enhancing reforms are in the pipeline, such as reforms in the judiciary, and e-justice programme.
“Cyprus emerged from the crisis stronger than ever and is steadily reinforcing its positions as a competitive, innovative, stable and fully transparent destination for business and investment,” he said, noting the country’s business environment is continuously improving, with sound public finances, a stable competitive tax regime and incentives for new business and investment.
Recalling that in a bid to simplify procedures of visa application to Chinese tourists the government as of March last year started cooperating with an external service provider establishing six visa application centres in the main Chinese cities, Sophocleous said the aim is to extend these centres to 15 cities.
“We shall continue to stand by the local and foreign business community, always striving to create a business-friendly economic environment,” Sophocleous concluded.
Wang Yaping, the Chinese Embassy`s Economic and Commercial Counselor, said since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1971, China and Cyprus have continued to deepen and expand trade relations making a positive contribution to the two countries. “Based on a solid foundation our relations are entering a new development stage full of opportunities,” he said.
Wang also noted that although the scale of investment of Chinese enterprises in Cyprus is relatively small the Chinese investment are becoming increasingly active, as according to the Chinese office of statistics, the investment flow from China to Cyprus in 2016 has increased by a welcome 28.5%.
He referred to joint Chinese and Cypriot investments in Cypriot air carriers, the acquisition of a mobile-based games company by a Chinese private company, as well as Chinese investments made in the construction of Luxury hotels in Cyprus.
“Today China-Cyprus relations are moving towards a new stage of multilevel and wide-range cooperation and our economic and trade relations have good prospects offering new opportunities,” he said speaking through an interpreter.
Alecos Michaelides, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport, said both his Ministry and the Department for Civil Aviation are actively involved in enhancing air connectivity between China and Cyprus so as to encourage and further develop the relations between the two countries.
“At present there are no direct flights linking China and Cyprus but a Cyprus registered air-carrier has shown keen interest in initiating direct flights between our two countries as of next year,” he said.
On his part, Chris Michael, Honorary President of Association recalled that during the economic crisis that hit Cyprus in 2013 “Cyprus saw a ray of light coming from the east and the friend friendly country of China which over the years have proved a loyal and steadfast ally of Cyprus.”
“In this climate the Chinese investors were not scared away but on the contrary invested huge sums in Cyprus ignoring very attractive proposals by other European countries including Greece and Malta,” he added.
Michael expressed gratitude to Chinese investors who continued to regard Cyprus as an investment destination despite the fact that some Chinese investors suffered a haircut, as part of the bail-in.
On behalf of the Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency (CIPA) Lefteris Eleftheriou outlined the reasons why to invest in Cyprus pointing out Cyprus’ robust economic growth, the island’s favorable tax regime, the island’s young and skilled workforce and the low cost of doing business.
On his part, Cyprus Investment Funds Promotion Association, Angelos Gregoriades referred to the opportunities for Cyprus arising from the exit of the UK from the EU in relation with the Chinese funds industry.
He said that Cyprus is aware that China is gradually opening up its financial markets to foreign investors but vehicles for investing in assets linked to the Chinese economy are still limited, while that China’s gigantic, 7 trillion Euro funds industry is said to be looking for an alternative funds jurisdiction as a potential European base in the wake of Brexit.
“This means we have to be innovative and aware of how the world is changing and adapt accordingly,” he concluded.