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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 April 15:

In recent developments from Cyprus, Marinos Christodoulides, President of the Cyprus Stock Exchange (CSE), emphasised the significance of enhancing the bond market and introduced European Medium-Term Notes (EMTNs) by the Republic of Cyprus into the CSE. These initiatives are part of broader ambitions to expand the exchange’s reach and capabilities.

Concurrently, the real estate sector in Cyprus is experiencing a slowdown, as evidenced by a report from the Cyprus Real Estate Agents Registration Council. The first quarter of 2024 saw a decrease in property transactions, totalling 4,543 transfers valued at €955.8 million, reflecting the adverse impacts of inflation and high interest rates.

In the financial sector, AstroBank reported a successful fiscal year with a profit after tax of €30.4 million and a Return on Equity of 13.9 per cent. Aristides Vourakis, the bank’s CEO, labelled 2023 as a remarkable year, showcasing the bank’s robust performance amidst challenging economic conditions.

Amid these financial updates, the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in cooperation with the Digital Security Authority, organised the second “Cyber Security Weekend” in Larnaca. This initiative aims to enhance cybersecurity awareness among businesses, highlighting the critical nature of digital security in today’s interconnected world.

Further bolstering Cyprus’ international ties, Chief Scientist Demetris Skourides concluded a series of meetings in Tokyo to advance research and innovation collaborations between Cyprus and Japan. These efforts underscore the Cypriot government’s commitment to fostering global partnerships in technology and innovation.

Tourism and agrotourism also continue to thrive in Cyprus. Deputy Minister of Tourism Kostas Koumis noted the growth in agrotourism, with an increase in overnight stays in 2023. The Ministry’s incentive plans are significantly contributing to this upward trend, enhancing the appeal of Cyprus’s mountainous and rural areas.

On a broader scale, Christos Angelides, President of the Association of Hotel Professionals of Cyprus, called for agility and adaptability in the tourism sector. Emphasising the need for politeness and Green policies, Angelides highlighted the necessity to adapt to changing global conditions and preferences to maintain growth and resilience. This adaptability seems to be paying off as Cyprus tourism exhibited growth in early 2024. Despite concerns about the geopolitical tensions in the Middle East, tourist arrivals have remained strong, indicating a resilient sector buoyed by effective strategic planning.

In fiscal matters, Finance Minister Makis Keravnos welcomed the IMF’s optimistic re-evaluation of Cyprus’ public debt, which is now expected to meet the Maastricht Treaty limit sooner than anticipated. This positive outlook is attributed to an enhanced growth rate, boosting the nation’s economic prospects.

Supporting entrepreneurship, the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce & Industry announced the second call for proposals under the New Entrepreneurship Support Scheme with a budget of €20 million, and the project aimed at improving energy efficiency among SMEs. These initiatives are designed to foster economic growth and sustainability, aligning with national goals for economic and environmental health.

On the digital front, Deputy Minister of Research Nicodemos Damianou provided updates on Cyprus’ digital transition, including the upcoming launch of an AI-powered digital assistant and a new e-justice platform. These developments are part of Cyprus’ strategic efforts to modernise and secure its digital infrastructure.

Lastly, the Commonwealth and the Republic of Cyprus have signed a three-year Memorandum of Understanding to establish a Commonwealth Blue Charter Centre of Excellence in Larnaca. This initiative will focus on sustainable marine policies and research, reinforcing Cyprus’ commitment to environmental stewardship and international cooperation in ocean governance.

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