Taking a leap to the east
E DII TO RII A L
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.