Cyprus’ enviable geostrategic location between three continents affords the island unparalleled opportunities to development itself into a regional logistics hub. Marios Demetriades, Cyprus’ Minister of Transport, updates us on recent developments in the transport sector and how he envisions the island’s role within China’s One Belt, One Road initiative.
Can you explain some of the most recent milestones that you’ve been able to achieve?
The most significant milestone is the commercialization of the Limassol Port, which was signed in April 2016, with operators taking it over at the end of January 2017. Additionally, we can highlight the large increase in aviation traffic, which despite the closing of the state owned carrier in January 2015, has since increased by more than 30%. The third achievement is the recent increase in the number of companies in our shipping sector, meaning that Cyprus has been re-established as one of the world’s leading ship-management centers.
How can Cyprus play a role in China’s One Belt, One Road initiative?
Cyprus is situated in a very significant geographical position, among three continents, that is considered significant both for the global shipping industry as well as the logistics area. Currently, we are one of the leading ship management centers in the world, and the largest in Europe. We are the first port somebody can find outside the Suez Canal, and naturally we expect that traffic will increase after the Suez Canal expansion. Recently we have announced the process for giving a concession for the second largest port and one of the three qualified bidders is a large Chinese company. This follows recent Chinese investments in the aviation and satellites sector.
What other projects are in the pipeline?
We have a number of projects in the pipeline such as the unified system for data and voice, which will significantly upgrade e-governance. Additionally, we encourage telecom companies to invest further in upgrading the fiber optics network in Cyprus so that connectivity improves. Finally, we are looking at the possibility of further upgrading port infrastructure for the purpose of both enhancing dirty cargo facilities and additional oil and gas facilities to take advantage of this new industry that is developing in the Eastern Med area.
Where do you see Cyprus in the next five years from an infrastructure standpoint?
Our vision is for Cyprus to be used as a regional logistics hub, and for this to take place the transport sector has an important role to play. Cyprus is already used as a base from a number of companies and we believe that this role can definitely be enhanced further in the future.