It was held on Monday 28th the February Smart Talk that hosted Irene Georgalla, Head of Economic Diplomacy of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus, focusing on action’s guidelines and main areas of interest of the Economic Diplomacy Department of Cyprus MFA.
After the introductory greetings by the President of the Italian-Cypriot Chamber of Commerce Giuseppe Marino, also mentioned the dramatic situation in Ukraine, spending some words on the important role of diplomacy in the solution of the conflicts, the discussion was moderated by Federico Franchina, Vice President of the Chamber, who highlighted that where economic affairs flourish, also peaceful relations are a common ground of exchanges.
In the same way Mrs. Irene Georgalla, commenting the current developments, took the occasion to express the full solidarity to the Ukrainian people who are suffering, saying that Cyprus strongly condemns the invasion of Russia in Ukraine as a country that suffered the foreign invasion and occupation and expressed the hopes for a constructive dialogue that will lead to immediate suspire of the situation. Then the Smart Talk started giving to the audience a general overview of the main areas of intervention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the Economic Diplomacy, providing a background on the process that led to the creation of this specific Department within the Ministry. The aim was to develop a strategy, finally adopted in October 2021 by the Council of Ministers, to allow the Ministry to takes a more active role in the promotion of economic and business ties, facilitating and enhancing the work of other Ministries and stakeholders, through the network of Embassies around the world, leveraging diplomatic relations.
Mrs. Georgalla gave also an overview about the model of international promotion and business support activity of the government of Cyprus worldwide.
In its efforts to develop economic diplomacy for Cyprus, the Department focuses on several elements, the most important being the Governance of the Strategy, which links the Inter-Ministerial Committee and the ED Working Group through common objectives. In a holistic way, the Committee connects at the political level the MFA, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Energy, Commerce and Industry, and also the three Deputy Ministries (Tourism, Shipping, Research, Innovation and Digital Policy) and at the technocratic level, it involves the Directorate General for Growth, responsible for EU funds, and Invest Cyprus. In addition, it offers a strategic approach for branding Cyprus, indicating in particular the expected impact, strategic objectives and tools to be used for innovation and economic spillovers. It also provides training, as well as all available information to promote economic diplomacy, and guidance to diplomatic staff and Embassies in all States of representation. The Department is also working closely with the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Industrialists and Employers Federation and other key professional associations like the ICPAC, ACB, and others.
Mrs. Georgalla then indicated the sectors of major interest that are defined by the economic policy of the Government. At the moment the two key policies are: the long-term economic strategy Vision2035, which focuses on green and digital growth,
enhance the competitiveness of Cyprus as a centre for professional services, but at the same time focuses on the development of light manufacturing, agriculture, agri-tech and e-health. On this areas, Cyprus emphasizes its strategy for Attracting Businesses and Talent to Cyprus and, inter alia, High Technology, Shipping, Innovation, Research and Development, Biogenetics and Biotechnology, without excluding other potential sectors.
As regards of geographical areas, the Department aim is to utilize the full network of Cyprus’s Embassies abroad, however, there is a focus on the European Union, the UK, countries in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf, as well as the U.S., India and Japan. This list is not exhaustive, as Cyprus is trying to develop the economic diplomacy with all the countries where the embassies are present abroad.
In regard to the local economy, Cyprus economy is dominated by services, which account for about 82% of Gross Value Added. In the past, the most prominent sectors that contributed to growth included Tourism, Shipping, Business and Financial Services, and Real Estate. However, in the recent years, also due to the Government Policy, there was a broadening of the productive base of the economy. New sectors with significant future potential include ICT and High Tech companies, Higher Education (at the moment there are 9 universities operating in Cyprus), Renewable Energy (funded by the Resilience and Recovery Plan and National Funds). Furthermore, Innovation is also a very promising sector, as investment for start-ups, Investment Funds, Health and Biotechnology among others.
Moreover, the Smart Talk focused on the specific actions finalized to attract foreign companies in Cyprus, also presented by the Minister of Energy, Commerce and Industry H.E. Pilides in the last Cypriot-Italian Business
Forum in September. In this regard, Mrs. Georgalla referred to the Strategy for Attracting Businesses and Talent, adopted by the Council of Minister in October 2021 and implemented since beginning of 2022. The establishment of the Business Facilitation Unit, previously named “Business Fast Track”, has broader competences e offers new services to the foreign companies that would like to establish their presence in Cyprus. Other specific innovations and tools regard in particular the shipping sector, innovation and hi-tech sector with broader tax incentives for non-domicile employees, tax exemption for investments in innovative companies and tax deduction for research and development expenditure, Digital Nomads. All these specific information are available on the Ministry of Finance website.
Finally Mrs. Georgalla complemented with the Italian-Cypriot Chamber of Commerce for its excellent contribution in strengthening business ties between Italy and Cyprus and for the high commitment and plethora of activities promoted, including the Smart Talk, the Business Forum and events. The Head of Economic Diplomacy referred to the Chamber also as “the best practice” for what concerns the public tenders information, the newsletter and the communication tools. She then highlighted how these activities can also be expanded to include cooperation in the Eastern. Nevertheless, the volume of exchange can increase also expanding the Easter Mediterranean, through for example, by engaging Italian and Cypriot stakeholders that have presence in these countries (Embassies, Chambers, Trade Centers or even private companies that are based in neighboring countries) in order to explore and promote cooperation. The conclusions by President Giuseppe Marino, renovated the Chamber’s commitment to continue strengthening and further developing the relation between the two countries, mentioning also some important joint projects in the framework of NRRP.
For further insights on this article and the activities of the Italian-Cypriot Chamber of Commerce, please write to the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Last modified: March 3, 2022