The US sees Cyprus as an important partner in its wider region and was working to build a stronger political relationship with the country, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Palmer has said.
Speaking during the official lunch for the 2nd Capital Link Investment Forum held in New York, Palmer said that the deepening of trade and investment links were offering new opportunities and were intensifying financial engagement, while he described Cyprus as a “very attractive investment destination”.
He particularly stressed Cyprus opportunities in the field hydrocarbons and the importance of the discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean, saying that the energy sector could connect and integrate the region, improve economic and political cooperation and bring the stability that the region needs.
He also reaffirmed that US was supporting Cyprus` rights to its Exclusive Economic Zone, but noted however that the oil and gas reserves offshore, should be fairly shared between the two communities in the context of a comprehensive settlement.
Palmer also said that US companies had a role to play in promoting Cyprus as an investment destination and were playing a key role in building closer trade ties. He said US companies had an increased presence in areas such as energy, insurance, financial services, franchising and tourism. According to the Department of Commerce, direct US investment in Cyprus was $1.6 billion in 2016.
Answering a question, Palmer said that an investor should prefer Cyprus for the liberal investment climate, professional skills and relatively low labour costs. He added that continuing economic recovery in Cyprus would create greater opportunities for US exports in the future.
The US official said that a lasting and viable settlement of the Cyprus problem would also greatly facilitate the development of its resources, ensuring that all Cypriots would benefit. For that reason, he said, the US government strongly supported a bi-zonal bi-communal federation.
Speaking about strengthening US political cooperation with Cyprus, he mentioned the increased visits by US officials from the state, finance and defence departments and stressed the strong bilateral co-operation to counter terrorism, prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the security in the sea and border protection.
He also said that in two weeks they planned to educate 36 coastguards to improve security in the Eastern Mediterranean.