Encouraging Investment

Philippos Soseilos, CEO of PwC Cyprus, explains why the company has been a long-term supporter of the Invest Cyprus International Investment Awards and suggests what more can be done by both the public and private sectors to bring more foreign investment to the island.

Why does PwC Cyprus support the Invest Cyprus International Investment Awards?  Why is it important to recognize and reward international companies?

PwC Cyprus has supported the Invest Cyprus International Investment Awards for nine consecutive years, demonstrating the great importance that our organisation places on the role of foreign investment as the driving force to achieve economic growth. PwC is at the forefront of attracting investment and promoting Cyprus as an international business centre. Taking advantage of our global expertise and network, we have undertaken various initiatives for the introduction of major reforms to enhance the competitiveness of the economy and the attractiveness of Cyprus as an investment destination. In our opinion, it is important to reward international companies and individuals who have invested in Cyprus and stand out for their contribution to the country’s economic growth. Expressing our appreciation to these companies and individuals enhances our brand as an investment destination, and motivates others to invest in Cyprus as well.

 

How do you view the current state of the foreign investment landscape in Cyprus?

Cyprus has attracted formidable foreign investment over the last years. The country’s return to an investment-grade rating in 2018 boosted investor sentiment and confidence. Sustainability and sustainable growth have now taken on a central role in strategic planning, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic. Developments have created fertile ground for fundamental changes to the country’s economic model, the investment sector, the decision-making process and strategy formulation. We are proud that PwC, in collaboration with the Economy and Competitiveness Council, carried out a study on the long-term economic strategy of Cyprus, funded by the European Commission’s DG Reform. As a result, Cyprus has an inspiring “Vision 2035”: to be one of the world’s best countries to live, work and do business in. “Vision 2035” aims to build on and enhance Cyprus’ comparative advantages towards becoming a sustainable regional business and trade hub, a leader in sustainability and a high-tech capital in Europe.

In what ways has investor interest and preference changed over the years? Which sectors have the best potential for development in Cyprus?

Over the past few years, we have witnessed a strategic shift, with numerous companies enhancing their presence in Cyprus, creating strong substance, relocating qualified personnel and developing fully fledged local operations. The new set-ups cover a wide range of corporations, from startups to international conglomerates, in a number of sectors such as ICT, shipping, funds, etc. The multicultural buzz of the island, its safety, high-quality education and healthcare services, are only some of the reasons why individual entrepreneurs also choose the island to become their personal and family base. What the recent crisis has highlighted, yet again, is the need to accelerate towards a more diversified, agile and productive economy. Headquartering is of great importance for both the Real Estate and Professional Services sector. In addition, Cyprus is emerging as a very exciting tech hub, aiming to become the “tech island” of the Mediterranean. In order to attract foreign investment, a range of incentives are offered to cater to the requirements of a technologically driven, post-COVID-19 world.

 

In your opinion, what can be done both by the public and private sectors in order to boost foreign investment and to resolve the challenges facing international companies when deciding to relocate to the island?

Neither the public sector nor the private sector can achieve anything on its own; there needs to be continuous cooperation. At the same time, we need to rethink and transform our economy and business models so as to be fit for the future and in line with the priorities set by the EU, especially as regards the digital and green economy. The key to achieving this is a common vision, a collective effort and an action plan embraced by all the stakeholders and implemented on the basis of effective cooperation between the public and private sectors. On the challenges side, trust is more important than ever. According to the recent global PwC CEOs survey, trust can be a meaningful enabler of change. Businesses need to adjust rapidly and invest in sustainable development and the green economy, with more and more ESG goals being incorporated into their strategic plans.

 

Taking global current issues such as the pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine into account, how do you expect entrepreneurship and investment in Cyprus to be affected in the near future?

The impact of the pandemic that has been afflicting the planet over the past two and half years and Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has intensified uncertainty in the world economy. Entrepreneurship is one of the main pillars on which the economic model of Cyprus in the post-pandemic era must be based. It has proven both its importance and its resilience in particularly demanding and difficult conditions and, at the same time, entrepreneurship plays a leading role in creating new jobs. According to the recent Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, which is one of the largest research projects on entrepreneurship conducted worldwide (coordinated by C4E of the University of Cyprus and supported by PwC), despite the challenges, the percentage of the population who believes that starting a business is easy has increased. At the same time, the experts expressed a positive view on how businesses, as well as the Government, deal with the effects of the pandemic. As to its advantages, the business ecosystem of Cyprus recognizes the natural, commercial and service infrastructure, as well as government policies related to taxes and bureaucracy. In fact, the current situation opens a window of opportunity for bold reforms and investment in innovation, technology and research. The Cyprus economy needs to accelerate its reform agenda to support the necessary pivoting towards a bright and sustainable future. International investor interest is on the rise. All stakeholders in Cyprus have a responsibility to deliver to international investors the right environment and experience to fuel exciting, new levels of growth.

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