New Additions to EU Country Blacklist
On 18 February 2020, the EU's Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) announced changes to its list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes. Four countries - the Cayman Islands, Panama, Palau, and Seychelles - were added to the list after they failed to adopt tax reforms they had committed to by the end of 2019. Currently, the other blacklisted jurisdictions are:
- American Samoa
- Trinidad and Tobago
- US Virgin Islands
What It Means for Cyprus
The news bodes well for Cyprus. As the country has brought its legislation fully in line with EU law, including the Alternative Investment Funds Manager Directive, it should continue to draw in foreign capital from both the EU and beyond. In fact, analysts expect that the record recent growth of the local fund industry will not stop any time soon.
Cyprus has become one of the world's top destinations for alternative investment funds (AIF). The country has seen considerable growth in both asset value and the number of local funds.
More than 50% of the assets under management (AuM) domiciled in the country relate to venture capital and private equity funds. What's more, Cyprus has seen its AuM double in just two years. According to the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC), the total AuM for the final quarter of 2019 stood at €8.3 billion. That represents an 8% increase compared to the previous quarter and more than a twofold increase from the end of 2017.
The national fund management infrastructure has also grown and adapted to accommodate the rising demand. The number of fund administrators, custodians, and other finance professionals has skyrocketed. Furthermore, the undertakings of collective investments and management companies based in Cyprus have now increased to over 200. Five years ago, there were only 13.
According to CySEC, this impressive growth is due to the country's investor-friendly tax regime and low company set-up costs. The island's strategic geographic position may likewise play a significant role in attracting foreign investors. Cyprus has also signed 65 bilateral double-tax treaties. These pave the way for direct investments in the EU as well as Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
Originally published April 30, 2020
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