Cyprus has said its successful handling of the covid-19 pandemic has put the island in a prime position to attract companies looking for a European base to access EU markets, an international summit was told.

The 5th Cyprus International Investors Summit, hosted by Invest Cyprus, was held as Cyprus was placed best in Europe, and fifth among almost 100 countries in the Covid-19 Performance Index, compiled by think tank Lowy Institute. Analysts said the index showed that countries with "smaller populations, cohesive societies and capable institutions" have a comparative advantage in dealing with a global crisis such as a pandemic.

In a keynote speech, the minister of finance, Constantinos Petrides, reflected on "demanding and challenging times" for all countries, but said he expected Cyprus's economy to rebound by 2021, buoyed by the positive fiscal performance of the island over the past few years.

He added: "Despite the pandemic setback, our policy priorities remain the same. These are: achieving macroeconomic stability, implementing prudent fiscal policies, ensuring financial stability and establishing a competitive, business friendly regulatory environment of high standards."

The government's broader strategy for economic recovery includes the implementation of structural reforms for the development of key sectors, he said. "The European Commission's Recovery and Resilience Facility will provide a mix of grants and loans to member states and this is expected to be instrumental in the rebuilding of our economy, including actions related to green and digital transitions. These additional funds which are up to 1.1bn euros will be key for our economy to become more competitive on the global economic stage."

"Having a competitive economy is a catalyst for attracting corporations and investors that are looking for investment destinations which can provide high returns on their investments. It is imperative we work together and combine forces in the post-covid era," he said.

Michalis P Michael, chair of Invest Cyprus said that competition for attracting foreign direct investment has become much more intense. "As one of the EU's fastest-growing economies, Cyprus aims to relentlessly diversify its economy and upgrade its services and products, developing sectors that hold significant potential," he said. "Cyprus' economy is characterised by its ability to adjust to changing circumstances and bounce back from external shocks, as it has proven throughout the years."

As part of package of incentives, foreign investors can take advantage of a favourable business environment and a revised fast-track business activation mechanism together with newly approved immigration incentives for tech professionals which aim to support companies looking to relocate or expand in Cyprus. Companies with bases in Cyprus include eToro, Wargaming, ASBIS, and Amdocs, and Invest Cyprus said it was in discussions with other companies looking to expand into Europe.

George Campanellas, CEO of Invest Cyprus, said Cyprus's geographical position made it the ideal location for regional headquarters for multinational companies. "The benefits include access to markets, an excellent regulatory structure that is based on common law principle, an attractive tax regime, strong business support services and the low cost of doing business. Last but not least, it is the high quality of life," he said.

He added: "Compared to other European countries, the cost of doing business is lower - lower labour costs, property costs and cost of living."

The conference was attended by more than 500 delegates from 45 countries. Speakers included Theo Parperis, of PwC Cyprus, Andreas Mercouri, of Trident Trust Company, Christophe de Bruyn, of THR Innovative Tourism Advisors, Grant Johnson, of City of Dreams Mediterranean, Polis Georgiades, of Synlab Cyprus and Marinos Soteriou, of the Board American Medical Centre/American Heart Institute.

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