Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very pleased to be here in Moscow, a great capital city and a vital commercial and economic centre of the Russian Republic, and address this Forum of distinguished decision-makers and businesspeople.
First and foremost I would like to congratulate everyone involved in the organization of this Forum.
I wish to reaffirm the excellent historically friendly relations between Russia and Cyprus which are constantly broadening. They are based on long standing links across a range of historical and contemporary trade, cultural and economic ties. Our countries have many shared practices and common values that can shape the way we work. We remain committed to strengthening these ties, making them even stronger in the future.
The presence here of so many leading economic representatives and business people shows, I believe, how committed our countries are to making this relationship successful.
Despite the global financial and economic crisis, Cyprus’ economy experienced a higher than the EU average growth rate in the last years, inflation is currently low and unemployment in 2010 is expected to be at a low 6.5 per cent. Average per capita income, in terms of purchasing power, corresponds to almost 95% of the EU average.
I mention these figures to show you the strengths of the vibrant Cypriot economy, a place where business can be conducted without red tapes, high taxes and unhelpful attitudes.
What makes Cyprus a leading international Center of business excellence, a place in which to invest, a country to trade with and a place that foreign enterprises can use as their hub to the Eastern Mediterranean region?
Strategically located at the crossroads of three continents and serving as a springboard for European products and investments in the lucrative Middle East, Asian and African Markets, Cyprus has a favourable environment for all types of business, a stable economic environment which offers confidence, safety and security, a modern and transparent legal framework, a liberal foreign investment policy, low company set-up and operating costs, simple administrative procedures, a wide network of agreements for the avoidance of double taxation and a low corporation tax at 10%, the lowest in the whole EU.
The service sector plays a critical role in Cyprus’ economy. Services activities are the most dynamic and growing sector, which has surged since the mid-1990s, and now accounts for about 80% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. Cyprus has a clear strength in the area of financial services as the “Financial and Services Gateway” in the region facilitating the exchange of ideas. Cyprus offers high quality – value for money consultancy services and support for professionals worldwide. Given the above, many companies have chosen Cyprus as a jurisdiction for establishing an international holding company.
The professional and business service sector has much to offer to Russian businesspeople, a comprehensive range of services from accounting and banking to legal services, IT, business consulting, design, engineering, shipping and marketing, health care and education. These, in conjunction with the competitive fees charged and the professional attitude of Cypriot service providers, account for the transformation of the island into a highly reputable international and reliable business centre.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The credibility Cyprus has earned among the international investment community is evident from its foreign direct investment track record. The value of Foreign Direct Investments in 2008 was 15.2 billion Euros, continuing an upward trend. The attraction of Direct Investments constitutes a major goal of our Government's Policy. What Cyprus has to offer is one of the best and most productive investment climates anywhere in the world, with a liberal Foreign Direct Investment regime for both EU and Non-EU nationals, allowing up to 100% foreign participation in most sectors of the economy.
In this respect, I wish to mention as an example a recent huge investment from Qatar in Cyprus, which represents a vote of confidence in the Cyprus economy.
Russia is amongst the largest foreign investors in Cyprus. The value of Russian investments in Cyprus reached €2 billion Euros in 2008, whereas the value of Cypriot investments in Russia during the same year was more than €1.5 billion Euros. These investments are mainly in real estate and business activities, trade and repairs, financial intermediation, and manufacturing. We are pleased that trade between our two countries is at a satisfactory level. Exports of Cyprus products to Russia during the period 2005-2008 represented an increase of 55%, despite the small decline in 2009 which is due to the recent economic crisis. The main products include pharmaceutical, citrus fruit, and fish products. Total imports from Russia are nearly double our exports; the main products are barley, wood products and animal fodder.
Our island is an internationally renowned tourist center, a place of destination for about two and a half million tourists a year. In 2009 150,000 Russians visited Cyprus, while in the same year 49,000 Cypriots visited Russia.
It is worth mentioning that a large number of Russians do not only visit Cyprus as tourists but also use our island as a pleasant place to reside and be actively involved in various businesses.
Russian companies can benefit from the numerous tax advantages and other incentives for establishing in Cyprus assembling or manufacturing operations for the supply of existing and newly emerging markets in the region. Cyprus is an ideal platform for companies from Russia and international companies engaged in trade and marketing, serving the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Africa. As a knowledge-based economy, Cyprus offers some of the most advanced infrastructure and a well educated talent pool. We invite businesses seeking to invest in Cyprus in knowledge activities to take advantage of this talent, at very competitive terms. Priority investment sectors include financial intermediary institutions, R&D, medical and educational services, ICT, professional and maritime services and energy.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Cyprus is a small, but important market in the financial sector. It reaches out to offshore financial centres and emerging markets in its vicinity. We offer significant benefits and a lot of niche opportunities to investors and that's why our island is attracting so many international companies.
What I have mentioned above is just a snapshot of the real business opportunities that Cyprus’ dynamic, growing economy offers Russian companies. These opportunities could be explored and exploited in a fruitful cooperation with Cypriot businesspeople in successful business ventures. Today’s Forum provides the opportunity to discuss all these issues, as well as our business ambitions for the future. Let me assure you that companies from Russia will be more than welcome to explore Cyprus and discover the advantages that it can offer. I also hope that Cypriot companies have the aspiration, contacts and the chance to operate and profit in Russia. These will undoubtedly help in creating jobs, business, and wealth in both our countries.
Thank you very much for your attention.