More Iran opportunities ahead
E DII TO RII A L
Now that the Cyprus economy is improving, its energy and political hub status in the eastern Mediterranean is elevated, and growing bi-lateral trade opportunities with Iran are cropping up, the employers’ and industrialists federation OEV has rightly announced a trade mission to Tehran, scheduled for early-March.
The timing of the visit could not have been better, as soon after the western economic sanctions on Iran were lifted, the rating agency Moody’s declared that “Iran is fiscally and structurally well placed for international re-emergence.”
This vote of confidence to the second largest economy in the Middle East, after Saudi Arabia, has come to overshadow recent noises about Iran’s missile programme, with the U.S. once again imposing new sanctions and jeopardising the momentum that has so far succeeded in getting Tehran to negotiate, or at least discuss, issues that would have been unthinkable for the hardliners a decade ago.
What is attractive for Cyprus is not just the opportunities created for shipping and construction companies that need to join forces with larger international peers in order to get a slice of the action. Iran’s Finance Minister has said that the country will need $90 bln a year in external financing to meet its 8% economic growth target.
Although the Cyprus banking sector is as dry as the Persian desert, when it comes to financing, however, there are major fund managers who might be keen to enter the market and share in the boom that is cure to follow.
Fortunately, the “disadvantage” of being a small and defenceless nation allows Cyprus to establish good relations with all its neighbours, as last week’s tripartite summit with the prime ministers of Greece and Israel has shown, while a similarly warm cooperation is already underway with Egypt.
Just as the three leaders sought to reassure Turkey that the Greece-Cyprus-Israel alliance should not be deemed as a threat, the same must also apply to Israel, with Cyprus and Greece jointly making inroads to Iran and reassuring the Israelis that any commercial tie-up with Tehran is not a threat either.
If President Anastasiades has the courage to put aside for a few days the childish petty politics that have gripped our party leaders, desperate to get reelected in the May parliamentary elections, then he should probably join the OEV trade mission and give the delegation a far higher status with his presence in Tehran.