Trade relations with the EU and the Arabian Gulf
The island has a Pan-Cypriot Chamber of Commerce, as well as individual offices. Manthos Mavrommatis, president of the Nicosia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says the island has worked hard to meet EU requirements.
The implementation of EU standards and laws has, he said, increased costs substantially in some sectors – but membership has also opened up a 400 million-strong market. Cyprus has traditionally exported such items as furniture, leather goods, and dairy products. Its construction companies are active in the Gulf, and now, Mavrommatis says, Cyprus needs to concentrate on providing services such as accounting, education, health and IT. It operates an incubator project for new businesses, and welcomes joint ventures to the island. “We face competition from countries with lower production costs when it comes to exports from our manufacturing industry, so we need to concentrate on value-added products and services,” he says.
Although with no reunification of the island yet on the cards, Mavrommatis says everyone on the island – Greek and Turkish Cypriots – want the north to be able to strengthen its economy.
“We have the potential on the island to act as an educational centre for the Middle East,” says Mavrommatis. “We are in a unique geographical position, between Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. We have a number of private colleges here offering a wide variety of courses, and we need to bring in more in the way of campuses for overseas universities.”
Educational institutions on the island have an excellent reputation and tuition and accommodation costs are generally lower than in mainland Europe, or North America.