Natasa Pilides

Natasa Pilides

Director General of the Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency

Economy / Cyprus

“The energy sector is going to be a massive opportunity for China”

The Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency (CIPA), the investment arm of the Government of Cyprus, is today underscoring shipping and tourism as the priority sectors for attracting foreign capital. The agency’s director general, Natasa Pilides, tells us how she is also bullish on the energy sector becoming a magnet for large-scale investment.

What are CIPA’s current priorities?
Our priority sectors have been shipping and tourism, with tourism having attracted some very significant investment, one being the largest integrated casino resort in the EU, which will start operating in the next few years. Furthermore, there has been an upgrade at the Limassol Port and investment in the Limassol Marina, the latter amounting to over 200 million euros. One project that is not yet awarded is the Troodos Mountain Resort project, which has seen interest from Chinese investment. In terms of shipping, we’re trying to have companies come in that involve directly with the maritime services sector, as well as the potential infrastructure developments from the oil and natural gas explorations that are being developed. Cyprus offers shipping companies massive opportunities, adding to our value as a shipping port.

What is being done to further enhance the nature of doing business in Cyprus?
Something to speak of is that we are making huge improvements in terms of the ease of opening and starting a business.  This will now be fully digitalized and done electronically, so that now it will only take a matter of hours. The permitting process will need to be better managed so that we are even more investor friendly to streamline the process from A to Z.

What recent industry developments are changing Cyprus’ image?
The most recent development is an incentive package for start-ups and R&D.  People from non-EU countries can apply for a start-up visa and come to Cyprus to work.  Additionally, in terms of professional and financial services, we are now starting to develop the investment fund industry, which have tripled their assets under management in the last few years.  The reality is that we have had one of the strictest anti-money laundering standards since 2013, and the international finance community recognizes this.  Today, having emerged from such a severe crisis, in such a short time, is something to take note of.  If we can go through that and come out with much collateral damage, taking a look at the massive reforms that we’ve implemented, then we are on the right path and it’s time to show it.

How do you see China playing a role in the development of Cyprus?
I think China can play a huge role here.  If you look at the difference in mentality of investment of China, you can see that they are very outward-minded now.  China has a large amount of know-how regarding infrastructure projects, and we are now looking to the East, for the next major investment capital. We have had very good relations with China, and look for further communication and investment ties with them.

What can Cyprus do to attract investment from China?
Because were a small island, we have not had the massive infrastructure projects that Chinese companies would have been interested in the past.  Going forward though, the energy sector is going to be a massive opportunity for China to come here and work, and going downstream to merge that with the shipping sector.  Once we are ready for an interconnector, I believe that Chinese investment will have a massive role to play here, and will be largely attracted to Cyprus.