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Cyprus can become a regional business hub, BoC chief says

panicos nicolaou boc
Bank of Cyprus CEO Panicos Nicolaou

Bank of Cyprus CEO Panicos Nicolaou this week revealed a vision for Cyprus as a thriving business hub in the region, noting that the island has the potential for further growth.

Speaking at the seventh Business Leaders’ Summit in Nicosia, he emphasised the imperative need for a comprehensive and continual sustainable development strategy.

Nicolaou envisions Cyprus as an ideal base for large international organisations and businesses, but he rightly stated that it will require “courageous decisions” and a long-term sustainable plan.

Despite past challenges and regional conflicts, Cyprus has consistently exceeded expectations and grown, he explained.

“We must leave these past plans, like the Cyprus Investment Programme, behind to genuinely attract foreign investments that add value,” said Nicolaou.

He also acknowledged that “conditions are ever-changing, with many unexpected developments, such as the nearby Gaza conflict”.

“In the last 50 years, Cyprus has faced significant challenges, like the 1974 disaster, the stock market crisis of 1999, and the 2013 banking crisis. Despite this, we continue to grow, display resilience, and exceed expectations,” he underlined.

He pointed out the vast opportunities that lie ahead, with the potential to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), create high-value jobs, increase consumption, raise living standards, and provide a brighter future for young people.

Nicolaou believes that meeting the demand is key to transforming Cyprus into a booming business destination.

In addition, he highlighted Cyprus’ ability to quickly attract a number of international companies to the island, particularly in the technology sector.

Additionally, Cypriot companies have been expanding their services into the Middle East, the Arabian Gulf, and North Africa.

He explained that by being the only EU member state in the region with the euro as its currency, Cyprus has the potential to establish itself as the primary business hub.

Moreover, he cited the country’s attributes, including its tax regime, access to talent, and quality of life, as key reasons behind his belief that there is potential for further growth in the future.

“The signs are indeed excellent for Cyprus. We just need to do what needs to be done with a plan, in a systematic way, and with discipline,” he said.

What is more, predictability is essential for investors, according to Nicolaou. He emphasised that Cyprus must be seen as a stable country, not one with high political risk that formulates policies based on random situations and outside pressures.

He also explained that the digitisation of services, streamlined bureaucratic processes, and a more responsive and expedient judicial system are also crucial for businesses and individuals.

Nicolaou recommended creating an ecosystem cluster to attract similar companies, fostering investment, and supporting secondary sectors.

He emphasised the need for Cyprus to rebuild its image, promoting reliability and stability. To achieve this, he called on the government and all relevant agencies to unite their efforts.

In his closing remarks, Nicolaou stressed the importance of long-term, stable policies unaffected by political changes.

“The way forward is through the avenues of cooperation, innovation, and continuous investment in our people, our businesses, and our infrastructure,” he said.

“Major changes are never straightforward. In the history of every successful effort or transformation, there is always someone who has had the courage to make a defining decision,” he added.

He continued by saying that Cyprus must grab the opportunity to become a thriving European business hub, for, as he noted, “there is no other way”.

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