Cyprus embassies must get pro-active

2 mins read

A country’s diplomatic mission abroad functions as a mirror of back home. In the business world, embassies should promote the interests of the country they represent, keeping an eye on opportunities.

It should then be up to Cypriot firms and those in the host country to get together.

The embassies should try to deal with any problems and host events with Cypriot firms, keeping an eye on developments and suggesting to the Cyprus government and especially the Ministry of Commerce or any other competent authority what action they should be taking.

Are our embassies up to these basic requirements? I very much doubt it.

From what I read, our embassies and their staff are looking after themselves for personal gain, and the recent Auditor General’s report is an example in hand.

In addition to the high costs, existing staff bringing over their spouses; medical bills are overcharged and so on.

How can we depend on some Cypriot embassies for business regarding Cyprus?

I say, don’t depend on them. Our embassies, in terms of business promotion, are mostly useless.

As a property development and advisory company, a few years ago, we wanted to expand our activities in Germany to promote Cyprus to this affluent country for real estate investment.

We even visited the Minister of Commerce because we received no replies from our embassy in Germany.

We suggested the embassy invite certain business firms in Germany, which might be interested, and we offered to pay whatever the cost.

After the Minister’s intervention, we duly got an estate agents’ (German) directory for us to call and no other contribution or investigation on the part of our diplomats.

I understand that we handsomely pay those civil servants, but any interest on their part is zero.

We also proposed a similar offer to our ambassador in Iran, who replied that he had no staff to deal with it – being also a bit upset that we reported this in the media.

The embassy’s role is a major asset for any country in its business development, and I appeal to the Minister of Commerce and the Foreign Affairs Minister Ioannis Kasoulides.

In the “opposite camp,” credit is due to the ex-UK High Commissioner in Cyprus, Matthew Kidd, who did not let a month go without a reminder of his or the embassy’s presence and the need for an exchange of views.

There were invitations to locals based on enquiries by UK firms, including lunches, questions, and our views on Brexit.

Well done, High Commissioner, and we hope that our own “lot” in this country copies your actions.

If the business associations in Cyprus realise this sad state of affairs (such as employer organisations OEB-KEVE and others).

In that case, they should pressure the government to shake up our embassies abroad, especially those that carry the title of “commercial attaché.”

It is time for a business/foreign ministry forum to be set up to examine the drafting of a road map on Cyprus business promotion through our embassies abroad.

For this to happen and be successful, the people on the ground must have the aptitude and the energy to investigate the host country’s opportunities, report back to the foreign ministry or other government departments and set up meetings with local commercial representatives every few months.

With the low deposit rates and the reduction of tourism from our traditional markets, there must be businesses loaded with cash that might be looking for “undeveloped” markets or off-the-radar countries in the field of investment, such as Cyprus to investigate.

Can it happen? I very much doubt it.

This is the period of indifferent civil service in Cyprus.

Antonis Loizou Real Estate Valuer, Project Manager & Estate Agent