Attracting the who’s who of Cyprus’ business, financial and political landscapes, the 12th Limassol Economic Forum brought together renowned speakers from the global scene to explore the impact of the pandemic, in particular its effects on business.

The high-profile event began with a tribute to prominent lawyer, businessman and owner of the Cyprus Mail newspaper, Andreas Neocleous, who passed away earlier this month.

“Andreas Neocleous was one of the founders of the annual Limassol Economic Forum, and a longstanding supporter of the event,” said George Michael, CEO of IMH, and organiser of the conference.

Conference coordinator Michalis Persianis, Cyprus Fiscal Council chairman, and until recently Communications Director of the Bank of Cyprus, said that rapid adaptation must be the core of our collective response. He added that financial markets have not only seen a boom but have also shown extensive distortions with wide displacements of investment away from productive destinations.

“Financial markets are raking up the excess liquidity into unproductive purposes and continue to act as a secondary boom to inflation, which continues to accelerate,” he said.

Cyprus’ Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides, and his Greek counterpart, Christos Staikouras, headed the ministerial panel that focused on the economics of the EU, presenting a recovery plan for Europe that would pave the way towards sustainable economic growth.

Speaking from Brussels, economist Alessio Terzi, suggested that a forceful economic expansion after the Covid-19 pandemic was not unimaginable. “A strong, prolonged economic bonanza is unlikely to materialise evenly across the EU, possibly acquiescing intra-country imbalances,” he said. “As such, policymakers should avoid complacency, and make the most of the Recovery and Resilience Facility funds, combining them with wide-reaching structural reforms.”

Cyprus energy minister, Natasa Pilides, addressed the future of energy in the EU, focusing on energy trends and policy issues. “Climate change and environmental degradation are an existential threat to Europe and the world,” the minister said. “To overcome these challenges, the European Green Deal will transform the EU into a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy.”

The minister also announced the full liberalisation of the Cyprus electricity market by 2022 that will “benefit consumers in terms of prices and improved services.”

The impact the pandemic has had on business, with a specific focus on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead was the central theme that served as a focus for discussion between local business leaders at the forum.

The seven-member panel discussed their forecasts for the economic recovery, creating business value through ESG and sustainability, and encouraging and developing innovation within their various organisations that meet digital transformation demands.

“One of the trends that we have seen taking shape, across everything that we do, is technology,” said Elias Neocleous, managing partner of Elias Neocleous & Co LLC. “Legal business services, enhanced by technology, makes them superior and valuable products that meet clients’ needs and expectations.”

As far as global technology revolution is concerned, Manager Cyta Business Maria Damalou-Hadjigeorgiou considers Cyta “the expert that will drive Cyprus into the new era of technology.”

“We see ourselves as the state partner of the future. Towards this end, we are building a network infrastructure, investing heavily in submarine cable systems, including 5G and fiber-optic internet,” she said.

According to CEO Bank of Cyprus, Panicos Nicolaou, Cyprus’ largest bank is leveraging data and customer journeys to create deeper relationships with consumers. “Lifestyle Banking is the future of financial institutions. We aim to make a difference and remain a strong driving force of sustainable development in the country.”

The forum also welcomed a strong diplomatic presence of ambassadors from Egypt, France and the United States of America, and the high commissioners of India and the UK, who discussed global challenges, opportunities, business-government relations and their impact on international relations.

The invitation only event was held at Limassol’s Four Seasons Hotel and is considered one of the most prestigious business gatherings in Cyprus where the latest trends and developments in global politics and economies in Europe and the World are discussed.