George Lillikas, the minister of commerce, industry and tourism in Cyprus, has announced the Cypriot government's long-awaited plan to encourage foreign direct investment. The plan aims to make Cyprus the largest provider of business services in the eastern Mediterranean, linking the EU and the Middle East.
Lillikas said the government wanted to attract foreign investment in the high-tech and technology transfer sectors. This will help modernize local production and make it more competitive, as well as improving Cyprus's export prospects.
The government's foreign investment policy is based on three criteria:
- the creation of the Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency (CIPA), a non-profit organization with the state as its sole shareholder, to promote Cyprus as a business and investment centre;
- speeding up foreign investment procedures; and
- a modern promotion strategy that uses effective communication.
The Foreign Investors Service Centre at the Ministry of Commerce will evaluate the investment proposals and decide which warrant priority. Procedures for obtaining planning permissions, work permits and the like will be streamlined and liaison officers will be allocated in all the appropriate ministries. These new measures will help to fast-track foreign investment through red tape.
In the past many foreign investors had come to Cyprus but then left, disappointed by the complex procedures and bureaucracy. The government's plan is therefore significant and will be relevant to Cypriot as well as foreign investment.