Minister of Energy, Commerce and Industry, Natasa Pilides, said Monday that the contribution of the industrial sector to the country’s GDP, which currently stands at 8%, could increase, speaking at a press conference during which she took stock of the implementation of Cyprus’ new industrial policy 2019-2030, over the past two years 2020-2021. The press conference was part of the second Industry Week launched between 20-24 September.
The aim of the new industrial policy is to increase the sector`s contribution to GDP, increase productivity, innovation and exports.
“We very much believe in the prospects of the sector of industry”, both because of its contribution to the GDP and the employment opportunities it offers to young people to work in new, innovative sectors.
She said that Cyprus’ industrial sector is now able to compete with foreign ones, especially when it comes to products in which Cypriot industries are specialized, such as halloumi cheese, but also due to innovative Cypriot industrial companies.
The new industrial policy, which is already under implementation, includes six strategic pillars: building the supporting infrastructure, improving the industrial and business environment, innovation, digitization and technological upgrading of industry, development of skills, strengthening access to finance and enhancing competitiveness and access to international market.
Pilides stressed that grant schemes play an important role in encouraging industrial activity and noted that the contribution of the sector of industry to the country’s GDP may increase through targeted support. She said that between 2014-2020, 118 million euros were approved for 3,776 beneficiaries, of which 1,648 were small and medium-sized enterprises, and to date 79 million euros have been allocated.
She said that at the end of 2021, a new funding program will provide 25 million euros in funding for the creation, modernization and digital upgrade of companies processing and trading agricultural products.
In 2022, she said, the Ministry will announce two more schemes to fund provision of consulting services to small and medium-sized enterprises and also the digital upgrading of enterprises.
Another three schemes will fund the industrial sector’s improvement in energy efficiency, and will encourage the circular economy and installation of energy storage systems.
Pilides said the Ministry is engaged in dialogue with the Banks’ Association in an effort to channel more funds to the sector of industry.
She also noted that through the Fast-Track Business Activation mechanism the Ministry provides specialized support to foreign companies, including industrial ones, that wish to establish presence in Cyprus. Foreign industrial companies located in Israel, Lebanon, the Gulf and more widely outside the EU, are interested in establishing presence in Cyprus, she explained, to gain access for their products to the European market.
According to Pilides the sector faces a serious shortage of qualified personnel, despite the fact that it offers high - paying job positions and career advancement opportunities.
“Nowadays that the Cypriot industry relies heavily on technology and innovation, and not so much on large workforce, and the staff must be highly trained to develop innovative products and conduct research and evaluation so that the products become more competitive, the context changes and we can compete especially in areas in which we are specialized”, said Pilides. One such example, she said, is halloumi cheese, which is now registered as a Protected Designation of Origin. Also, she added, there are many innovative companies. However, she noted, they need support through the right branding and workforce, either from Cyprus or abroad.
Pilidou said that the Ministry is promoting actions to help Cypriot industrial companies gain access to foreign markets, including through a national branding for Cypriot industrial products and services.