Paving the Way Towards Growth and Stability

George Campanellas, CEO of Invest Cyprus, explains the importance of recognising international companies and individuals that have chosen Cyprus as their investment destination through the annual Invest Cyprus International Investment Awards and reveals that a new incentive scheme to attract high-tech companies will soon be ready.

Why has Invest Cyprus been hosting the International Investment Awards for the last 9 years?

Since 2012, we have organised the Invest Cyprus International Investment Awards in collaboration with GOLD magazine. These awards are presented with one and only purpose in mind: to express our appreciation and gratitude to the international investors who have trusted Cyprus and the potential of its economy, by making value-added investments. It is an initiative that has been running for nine years now and has evolved into a prestigious, high-profile institution that aims to reward and recognise entrepreneurship and innovation. After a one-year break due to the pandemic, the Awards ceremony took place at the Presidential Palace on September 8 and was held under the auspices of the President of the Republic, giving us the opportunity to congratulate this year’s winners.

Why is it important to recognise international companies and individuals investing in Cyprus?

As part of Invest Cyprus’ mandate – apart from international promotion and reform advocacy – we act as a one-stop-shop for new and existing investors, ensuring that they receive the best possible experience as their plans develop. Their level of satisfaction with the host country could determine their decision to stay or move on to new investments οr even act as Cyprus’ ‘ambassadors’. Bearing this in mind, every year we organise the International Investors Awards as a way of expressing our appreciation to those who have chosen Cyprus as their investment destination. For countries like Cyprus, which have an open economy based on traditional sectors, attracting Foreign Direct

Investment can pave the way towards long-term economic growth and stability, adding direct value to both the economy and society as a whole.

Based on your experience, what are the benefits that draw international companies to Cyprus and what are the challenges that need to be resolved?

Cyprus offers great prospects, key benefits and high-quality services to foreign investors. The country’s geostrategic location offers access to 500 million EU consumers as well as the MENA region. It is a modern EU member-state with a favourable jurisdiction and taxation system. Cyprus provides an ideal location for the establishment of Intellectual Property rights while offering numerous relocation incentives that aim to provide fast and efficient services to foreign businesses wishing to establish a presence in Cyprus. Additionally, Cyprus provides a stable business environment, low operating costs and broad prospects in a wide variety of sectors. The country is home to a well-educated and highly skilled multilingual workforce as well as individuals who are highly skilled in tech related fields. However, there are still steps that need to be taken in order for Cyprus to remain at the forefront of development and attract more international business. We need to use both our financial and human resources in international promotion activities, while continuing to monitor the competition, evaluate our FDI framework and adopt new incentives.

How does Invest Cyprus assist international companies wishing to do business or set up in Cyprus?

Invest Cyprus is a dedicated partner for foreign investors throughout the entire investment journey, offering assistance and guidance as well as after-care services. Furthermore, in view of the growing interest by foreign investors in our country, Invest Cyprus has recently created the investment “Project Bank”, which is a dynamic portfolio, showcasing high-value investment projects that are aligned with key government strategies in sectors such as healthcare, tourism & hospitality, renewable energy, education and other commercial developments, and linking investors with projects seeking FDI.

Among the award winners this year, the focus was on the technology and Forex sectors. Do you believe that these sectors have the most potential to develop in Cyprus? What other sectors can thrive?

It is clear that international ICT companies can significantly benefit the island, offering multiple advantages to our country since they contribute across all sectors, creating new jobs, adding value to the economy and increasing the tax base. In 2020, the Gross Value Added to the economy by international ICT companies operating in Cyprus was €1.5 billion while the sector contributed to the creation of 13,000 jobs. The numbers speak for themselves. To this end, since 2019, Invest Cyprus has prioritized attracting tech companies and I am happy to say that our efforts are bearing fruit with relocation incentives for tech professionals already being implemented while the Government is expected to announce new incentives in the next few months. We also recently conducted a comprehensive study in cooperation with the advisory firm Ernst & Young, with a view to supporting the Government in drafting a holistic plan to further improve the overall framework for international tech companies. Beyond the ICT sector, many investors have expressed great interest into the sectors of hospitality, healthcare and renewable energy, which also constitute strategic interests of the Government, but also projects that have set ESG principles as a priority.

How do you expect the Cyprus economy and foreign investment landscape to develop in the near future?

With all the latest reforms implemented by the Government – including the new incentive scheme to attract high-tech companies – and the significant improvements witnessed in the investment, regulatory and business environment of our country, I think that we are on the right track to establish Cyprus as a unique investment destination and an international business centre. On behalf of the organisation, I can say that we remain committed to working tirelessly towards this goal, promoting the island’s various comparative advantages, as well as providing all the necessary support to both existing and new investors, helping them to achieve their goals.