Another opportunity (not to be missed)
E DII TO RII A L
After a week-long diet of the usual self-pampering announcements and speeches, the Cyprus delegation has returned from China, where President Anastasiades declared on several occasions the ‘warm relations’ and ‘cooperation prospects’ between the two countries.
What is now clear is that Cyprus is no longer seen a pariah state with a fragile economy, but one that is/has come out of recession and wants to be regarded as a potential emerging market with investment opportunities.
The President gave speeches and visited various enterprises, the most important of which should be Huawei, the telco giant squeezing into a market dominated by Apple and Samsung. Let’s hope that it wasn’t a courtesy visit to try out the latest version of the company’s mobile phone and that the President had the vision to ask “What do you need to set up a major presence in Cyprus?”
Anastasiades was also the keynote speaker at a property promotion event, where Cypriot developers have seen a relevant slowdown in investments, primarily because of a handful of crooked property companies that have purposely inflated prices and have caused us much harm.
The President must also have heard complaints about crooked forex firms, many of whom have duped investors (a.k.a. ‘gamblers’) giving the Cyprus investments sector a bad reputation.
But right at the start of his visit, Anastasiades took part in the New Silk Road conference, a concept that has two basic avenues aimed at reviving global trade routes – the overland route that crosses through central Asia, Russia, the Caucusus and from the Balkans into eastern Europe; and, the sea route around the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and into the Mediterranean. However, both routes have an implied significance, as it is not only the thoroughfare that China wants revived, but it also wants to build up the means to conquer these two routes – land transport and shipping.
The Transport Minister has already announced that China’s colossal Cosco is one of the frontrunners in the bid for the commercialisation of Limassol port, a fact that suggests the high-calibre of interested investors.
Regardless of the outcome of the bidding process, Cyprus should not haste to disqualify any cooperation with China. Quite the contrary, Chinese investors should be given the red-carpet treatment, unlike potential investors in the Old Larnaca Airport terminal, the Pentakomo science-tech park, and other ventures that have been shunned due to red tape and trade union influence.
The minister in charge of the ports should be able to have the courage just seven months before parliamentary elections to tell the noise-makers at Limassol port that any further sabotage of the commercialisation (ex-privatisation) process is tantamount to national treason and using the pretext of ‘essential services’ should ban strikes once and for all. Thus, a clear message will also be sent to the other services pending privatisation.
The Chinese may not be major players in the oil and gas industry, but they are undoubtedly the biggest consumers of commodities of the future. Sending them away because of a bunch of union-led hooligans will be our biggest mistake.