Leading policy makers and business operators debate the implications of the Belt and Road Initiative at joint ACCA-ICPAC multi-stakeholder conference in Cyprus
Since its launch in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has received support from many financial and economic institutions. Cyprus can play a role in promoting the Initiative due to its excellent geographical location. The country has already achieved some progress in the areas of telecommunications, construction, tourism, ports, satellites, renewable energy, and in 2017, the Ministry of Education of China signed the Agreement with Cyprus on Mutual Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications and Degrees.
To shed more light on this important initiative, ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), in collaboration with the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Cyprus (ICPAC), organised a multi-stakeholder conference on the Belt and Road Initiative. It was a great opportunity to discuss how Cyprus can act as a bridge to further enhance ties of cooperation between Asia, Europe, and Africa while promoting sustainable economic growth. The lively debate provided an insight into the economic and policy implications of the BRI, as well as BRI’s opportunities and challenges for Cypriot and European business.
The debate revealed that there is strong support for BRI in Cyprus. The country is seen by many as a place where business can enjoy a stable legal framework and have access to very reliable and skilful professionals with strong work ethic. It is key to make an effort to put Cyprus on the map and take advantage of opportunities provided by the BRI.
‘Cyprus can offer high quality professional services to foreign companies and play an important role in facilitating business coming into Europe from China and vice versa. It is evident that the Chinese government has a clear long-term vision, strategy and commitment to BRI,’ said Kyriakos Iordanou,General Manager, the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Cyprus, who moderated the panel discussions.
The debate also showed that it is crucial to evaluate every business venture that comes out of BRI and make sure it adheres to market rules and international standards. The EU needs to ensure it has a constructive approach that builds on existing rules.
Costas Mavrides, MEP said: ‘There are global problems and therefore we need global solutions. The Belt and Road Initiative is a very ambitious and promising project that aims at improving infrastructure links between EU and China. The EU gives great importance to trade relationships but only with respect to EU values and principles, including human rights, social and environmental standards, transparency and sustainability. The challenge is ensuring the sustainability of the BRI projects in order to avoid potential risks. Everything can be resolved through dialogue and mutual respect. The political system in Cyprus is well determined to promote legal and economic stability so that Cyprus becomes the gateway for China.’
‘BRI is a very ambitious project that has potential to strengthen economic land, air, sea and digital connections. Besides physical infrastructure, connectivity is also about people to people relations, and this is where our profession can have an impact - access to talent. It is important to keep long-term sustainable projects and strategies at the forefront of this initiative,’ concluded Julie Hotchkiss, Director, Europe & Americas, ACCA.
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