An­other op­por­tu­nity (not to be missed)

E DII TO RII A L

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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