Tak­ing a leap to the east

E DII TO RII A L

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

The geopo­lit­i­cal de­vel­op­ments are evolv­ing at such a fast pace that Cyprus could, yet again, find it­self sit­ting on the side­lines if it doesn’t move fast, with dire con­se­quences for all sec­tors of the econ­omy.

With tourism and agri­cul­ture not our best qual­i­ties as we have man­aged to price our­selves far above our com­peti­tors, we are left with ser­vices and ship­ping, know­ing that the en­ergy sec­tor will not start earn­ing rev­enues well into the next decade.

Although China’s eco­nomic slow­down is more ap­par­ent than ever, an­tic­i­pated growth is now based on the ris­ing stan­dard of living in the world’s most pop­u­lated coun­try, with wealth be­ing a key driver, par­al­lel to the over­seas ex­pan­sion by mostly sta­te­owned gi­ants.

On the other hand, re­gional ri­val but new eco­nomic part­ner In­dia is fast be­com­ing the favoured na­tion for China’s over­seas in­vest­ments, as the coun­try has en­joyed growth lev­els of 5-7% in re­cent years and a fur­ther 8% a year ahead, with Bei­jing putting aside, for now, its bor­der claims and stand­offs.

Add to this the re­forms that Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi is try­ing to im­ple­ment in the ar­eas of ed­u­ca­tion and tech­nol­ogy, and the re­duc­tion of 5% in the cor­po­rate tax rate, it is clear that th­ese two coun­tries are vy­ing to cor­ner the global econ­omy over the next two decades.

And what does Cyprus have to of­fer? We keep on moan­ing about China’s sup­port as a per­ma­nent UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil mem­ber and con­stantly ap­peal to In­dia’s demo­cratic val­ues to sup­port the prin­ci­ples of fair and vi­able so­lu­tion to the Cyprus prob­lem. And then what? We have on oc­ca­sion hosted a hand­ful of In­dian and Chi­nese ship­ping com­pa­nies and have tried (very am­a­teur­ishly) to at­tract in­vestors, vy­ing for the peanuts from sell­ing res­i­dency per­mits in ex­change for prop­er­ties sold, while not see­ing the big­ger pic­ture of be­com­ing closer part­ners with two ma­jor pow­ers who have a say in world eco­nomic, diplo­matic, en­ergy and se­cu­rity af­fairs.

Modi’s pro-growth agenda is based on en­hanc­ing the ease of do­ing busi­ness in In­dia, while China has set its sights on boost­ing its strate­gic and mar­itime clout, hence, China has in­vited In­dia to join the mar­itime Silk Road ini­tia­tive that would ul­ti­mately slow down the devel­op­ment of In­dia’s strate­gic ties with the US and Ja­pan.

With our own Min­is­ter of Trans­port (aka the depart­ment that still has no Deputy Min­is­ter for Ship­ping) con­clud­ing a new strat­egy for the ship­ping sec­tor, per­haps a closer mar­itime al­liance with China and In­dia ought to be high on the agenda of our fu­ture plans. And this does not nec­es­sar­ily re­late to just sea­far­ing, but also in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ments such as ports, ground fa­cil­i­ties for en­ergy, etc.

It is good for Pres­i­dent Anas­tasi­ades to visit Mid­dle East coun­tries or even Rus­sia, re­turn­ing with a bag­ful of prom­ises, but a big­ger push to in­clude China and In­dia in our fu­ture plans is what we should have been plan­ning all along.

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