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Cyprus Business Now: weekly wrap-up

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Here are the top business stories in Cyprus from the week starting February 26:

The Cyprus Marine Club (CMC), a renowned non-profit organisation that plays a pivotal role in bringing together maritime industry stakeholders, recently held its Get Together event. This gathering, attended by more than 100 guests, underscored the club’s expanding influence and reach. According to an announcement made on Monday, one of the event’s highlights, which took place on February 23, was a presentation by Aristos Philis, CEO & Founder of KeelX. During this presentation, Philis shared insights into his company’s journey within the maritime digitalisation landscape. Furthermore, he demonstrated how KeelX’s solutions could assist shipping companies in managing their ESG, EU ETS, and CII Management effectively.

In a related development, the Artemis Credit Bureau announced a significant shift in its evaluation criteria. Starting in March 2024, the bureau will begin assessing businesses based on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria. This decision, as explained by general manager Yiannis Tomasides, reflects a growing recognition of the importance of sustainable business practices.

Meanwhile, Cyprus’ Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) experienced a downturn, with a decline of 2.1 points in February 2024 compared to January 2024. This decrease, as reported by the University of Cyprus’ Economic Research Centre (CypERC), signals a worsening economic climate. The report attributes this decline to weakened consumer confidence and a general deterioration in the business climate across all sectors, except for the construction industry. The primary concerns were lower expectations for business activity and more pessimistic assessments of the economic situation for households and the country at large.

Additionally, the Deputy Minister of Shipping, Marina Hadjimanolis, shed light on the challenges Cyprus faced during the December 2023 elections of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). She revealed that Cyprus had to contend with opposition from the Turkish and Russian blocs, the latter due to EU sanctions against Moscow following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. During a discussion at the 7th Capital Link Shipping & Offshore Forum, Hadjimanolis emphasised the significance of Cyprus’ successful election, highlighting the geopolitical complexities of international maritime politics.

On the economic front, Alkis H. Hadjikyriakos Public Ltd, known for its Frou Frou brand biscuits, announced a price increase for chocolate-containing products. Set to take effect on April 1, this price hike of 20 to 30 per cent is a direct response to the dramatic 153.55 per cent increase in cocoa costs over the last year. This situation underscores the challenges companies face due to rising global raw material costs, which could negatively impact chocolate sales this year.

In the realm of agriculture and technology, the Cyprus Research, and Innovation Centre (CyRIC) unveiled its leadership in the EU-funded dAIry 4.0 project. This initiative aims to use advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and data solutions for individualised automated milking and feeding of dairy cows. The project, which recently commenced in the Netherlands, promises to revolutionise Automated Milking Systems (AMS) through the integration of AI, data, and robotics solutions, reflecting a commitment to enhancing agricultural efficiency and sustainability.

Energean, a key player in the Mediterranean and UK North Sea gas sectors, celebrated a significant milestone with the achievement of the first gas from Karish North. Utilising the second gas export riser installed in December 2023, this development, announced on February 22, 2024, enables the Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel, Energean Power, to maximise its gas capacity. This accomplishment marks a crucial step in Energean’s efforts to enhance energy production and supply in the region.

In the financial sector, the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) hosted a landmark event with the Hellenic Capital Market Commission (HCMC). This meeting, the first of its kind in Nicosia, focused on the challenges facing European markets. It highlighted the rapid development of financial technology and the growing demand for sustainable investments, reflecting the evolving landscape of global finance.

The government’s focus on digital transition was further emphasised in a meeting between the Minister of Finance, Makis Keravnos, and the Deputy Minister of Research, Innovation, and Digital Policy, Nikodemos Damianou. Their discussions revolved around devising effective collaboration methods to advance this crucial policy area, underscoring its importance in the Recovery and Resilience Plan.

Regarding infrastructure development, the European Investment Bank (EIB) vice president Kyriacos Kakouris reiterated the bank’s negative stance on the Great Sea Interconnector project. Despite the project’s potential to enhance electrical interconnection between Cyprus, Greece, and Israel, the EIB’s evaluation remains unfavourable, highlighting the challenges in securing funding for such ambitious projects.

The tourism sector celebrated excellence through the Cyprus Hospitality Awards, an event that recognised outstanding contributions to tourism and hospitality. Deputy Minister of Tourism Kostas Koumis lauded the efforts to internationalise Cypriot gastronomy, showcasing the sector’s vital role in the country’s economy.

Legislative developments saw the House of Representatives approving several important pieces of legislation, including the abolition of the annual €350 corporate tax levy. This decision, aimed at easing the financial burden on registered companies, reflects the government’s commitment to fostering a business-friendly environment.

The Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC) offered an optimistic outlook for the country’s economy, projecting a 2.2 per cent GDP growth for 2023 and anticipating steady growth in the following years. This projection underscores the importance of implementing reforms and focusing on sustainable development for the country’s prosperity.

Moreover, the Cyprus Stock Exchange (CSE) budget for 2024 received unanimous approval from the House, despite a rejected amendment aimed at restricting expenditures. This decision reflects the legislative body’s support for the CSE’s operations and strategic direction.

In a significant move towards enhancing financial cooperation, the Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC) and the Bank of Greece (BoG) signed a Memorandum of Cooperation. This agreement, celebrated by CBC governor Constantinos Herodotou and BoG governor Yiannis Stournaras, deepens the collaborative relationship between the two central banks, fostering greater cooperation in the financial sector.

Lastly, Limassol’s annual carnival continues to be a highlight on the cultural calendar, embodying the city’s vibrant community spirit and creative flair. This year, the partnership with Blackbook promises to elevate the event’s innovation and creativity, further cementing its status as a significant cultural and social gathering point.

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