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Cyprus Business Now: weekly wrap-up

Here are the top business stories in Cyprus from the week starting January 29:

In maritime affairs, the Cyprus Shipping Chamber (Kne) announced on Monday that it is marking 35 years of successful operation since its establishment on January 26, 1989. The events organised aim to boost the island’s profile in international shipping.

Shifting our focus to real estate, Cypriot real estate data analytics firm Ask Wire released a report on Monday outlining the ten most lucrative property transactions completed in Cyprus during 2023. Additionally, the report highlighted key trends, showing the dominance of high-value deals, particularly in the district of Limassol.

Turning our attention to monetary policy, the European Central Bank (ECB) kept interest rates unchanged at a record high on January 25. This met the expectations of analysts and reiterated its commitment to lowering inflation. Furthermore, policymakers did not indicate that they are currently considering a shift towards policy easing. The ECB remained firm in its stance, stating that discussing a reversal would be premature.

Shifting towards the gaming industry, Wargaming, an award-winning online game developer and publisher headquartered in Nicosia, announced on Tuesday a number of opportunities for students and recent graduates in 2024. As part of the Wargaming Forge program, six online gaming educational courses will be launched in Cyprus. These courses will focus on key disciplines such as Software Engineering, Game LiveOps, Maintenance, 3D Art, 2D Art, and visual effects (VFX).

In the tourism sector, Cyprus’ Deputy Ministry of Tourism on Wednesday stated that it sees a feasible opportunity for a further increase in tourist arrivals from Switzerland. The ministry estimates the number of visits from the country to reach 80,000 this year. According to a statement by the ministry, Deputy Minister of Tourism Kostas Koumis recently conducted a number of meetings in Zurich, Switzerland, a market that has been on the rise. Arrivals in 2023 reached 73,000, marking a 20 per cent increase from 2022.

Presenting an innovative proposal, President of the Cyprus Institute Stavros Malas this week presented an innovative proposal for the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for Smart and Sustainable Farming (SMARTFARM) to the House Agriculture Committee. Malas outlined the objectives of the SMARTFARM project, emphasising its core mission to enhance production and sustainability systems for sheep, goats, and cattle. Additionally, the initiative aims to showcase best practices in meat production, integrate cutting-edge technologies, and promote environmentally friendly practices in cattle breeding.

Shifting our focus to economic indicators, the economic climate in Cyprus showed signs of improvement in January 2024, according to a report released this week by the University of Cyprus’ Economic Research Centre (CypERC). The Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) increased by 2.3 units compared to December 2023. This increase was primarily attributed to a strengthening business environment in the services sector.

In the technology sector, TechIsland, the largest technology association in Cyprus, and member company Adsterra, on Thursday announced the launch of “Advocate For Yourself,” an educational programme under the Women in Tech Cyprus initiative. According to the announcement, this series of workshops is designed to foster self-advocacy, leadership, and personal growth for women in the technology sector. The programme offers a range of workshops aimed at enhancing self-awareness, communication skills, emotional intelligence, and leadership abilities. Key areas include developing personal value systems, crafting effective personal pitches, understanding emotional intelligence in teamwork, addressing imposter syndrome, cultivating a growth mindset, and setting strategic goals.

Mark Rachovides, chairman of Venus Minerals and a member of Euromines, the voice of the European metals and minerals mining industry, on Thursday explained that copper prices are expected to rise by approximately 75 per cent over the next two years. In his analysis, Rachovides noted that this forecast, driven by disruptions in supply and increased demand linked to the global move towards eco-friendly energy, holds significant consequences for Cyprus. “Because of its superior capacity to provide electrical conductivity without causing overheating even at high levels, the red metal is a key element of the energy transition ecosystem as it is integral to manufacturing electric vehicles, energy storage systems, solar panels, and wind turbines,” Rachovides said.

In the financial realm, Finance Minister Makis Keravnos and Cyprus Central Bank (CBC) governor Constantinos Herodotou held a meeting on Thursday, discussing a potential decrease in interest rates by the European Central Bank (ECB) during 2024. Both the minister and the CBC governor agreed that interest rates are likely to fall before the end of the year. This is unless any unforeseen event disrupts the current trend. Additionally, Herodotou mentioned the positive trajectory of the Cypriot economy, with Keravnos echoing this statement.

The Bank of Cyprus on Friday announced that it has successfully returned a total of €2.2 million to up-to-date mortgage borrowers, as part of their ongoing reward plan. According to the announcement, reward points with a total value of €2.2 million were credited to the accounts of responsible borrowers, covering more than 12,000 of the bank’s mortgages.

Concluding the week, a €6.6 million project that saw the installation of solar panels in 405 schools has been completed, resulting in significant energy savings by reducing total energy consumption by 30 per cent, Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou, the electricity authority’s (EAC) board director said on Wednesday. She was speaking at a press conference held at Pancyprian lyceum in Nicosia to recap the goals and achievements of the project, which was funded under the national Recovery and Resilience plan. As explained by Theodosiou, the project was financed by the EAC and will be repaid gradually by the education ministry. Its total cost, amounting to €6.6 million, was significantly less than the initially projected figure of €6.9 million.

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