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We aspire to lift capital controls in near future, says President

29/01/2014 10:59
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades has told a business forum in Doha, Qatar that his government aspires to lift capital controls within the next months and has called on Qatari businessmen to invest in Cyprus.

President Anastasiades who is paying Qatar an official visit said that during his high level meeting with Emir of Qatar both sides reaffirmed their commitment to further enhancing Cyprus-Qatar cooperation, at all levels, specifically economic cooperation, to the benefit of the people of both countries.

“Attracting investments is the Cyprus government’s top priority”, he stressed, adding that they are after all “the catalyst for economic growth, job creation and prosperity”.

He refereed to the fact that despite economic woes Cyprus is faced with, the country still retains all of the competitive advantages that set it apart from most investment destinations. These include, inter alia, a competitive tax system, a low 12.5% corporate tax rate and an extensive network of double tax treaties, including with Qatar, he added.

He further spoke of the safe and business friendly environment Cyprus possesses and the highly qualified human resources it has on offer.

In Cyprus, he pointed out, “opportunities for growth exist in most economic sectors, including shipping, tourism, large-scale development projects, education, health and renewable energy”.

Referring to the discovery of natural gas reserves within Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone, he noted it “creates excellent prospects for investments and cooperation between Cypriot and foreign business in the energy sector and ancillary services”.

President Anastasiades further said that the government has launched a series of measures aiming at reducing the bureaucracy and encouraging doing business in Cyprus, including the reduction of the time needed for issuing permits, the speedy licensing of projects and the granting of residence permits and citizenship to foreign investors.

“The capital controls imposed on the Cyprus banking system are to be completely lifted in the near future, in the coming months, and we are now witnessing increased inflows from foreign residents”, he said.

The effort to restructure the banking system is still ongoing, he added, but as a result of the two positive evaluations received from the Troika (ECB, EC, IMF), “we have the aspiration to soon lift most of the restrictions on transactions and capital movement”.

On his part, Cyprus Minister of Energy Yiorgos Lakkotrypis presented the latest developments as regards the energy sector.

“Hydrocarbon resources in the Eastern Mediterranean present opportunities for economic development, growth, jobs, energy security, regional cooperation, peace and prosperity”, he said.

Cyprus, Lakkotrypis noted, offers an open, European, business-friendly environment governed by the rule of law. Geography, he added, provides unhindered access to the EU markets through the Mediterranean or to Asian markets through the Suez canal.

The Cyprus Minister further highlighted the fact that Cyprus aspires to become an energy hub hosting value-added industries in exploration, marketing, trading, petrochemicals, industry and more.

He also expressed his belief that Cyprus will diversify EU energy sources and increase the overall security of energy supply.

Addressing the event, the President of the Qatar Chamber of Commerce & Industry Sheikh Khalifa Bin Jassem Bin Mohammed al Thani said the relationship between Qatar and Cyprus has witnessed great development which has led to the signing of a number of memoranda in different fields.

The level of economic and commercial exchanges is still very limited, he noted, adding that this is going to be reinforced by the facilitation which will be given by the two governments.

On his part Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Phidias Pilides said that business relations between Cyprus and Qatar go back many years and are based on friendship and respect. He spoke of Cyprus’ strategic geographic position, noting that Cyprus can serve as a link to the EU.

CIPA President Christodoulos Agastiniotis in his speech presented all of Cyprus’ benefits as an investment destination. He mentioned inter alia that according to a recent survey commissioned by CIPA amongst existing foreign Investors in Cyprus, 40.6% of those surveyed indicated plans to expand their businesses in Cyprus over the next 3-5 years.