On 21st October Limassol once again, via the Elias Neocleous & Co LLC sponsored Limassol Economic Forum, opened its doors to some of Europe's and the region's biggest names in economics, business, finance and politics. All were present to discuss the unchartered waters that the world currently finds itself in and to provide opinions on what the future holds.
Naturally, there was much discussion concerning the impacts of the twin shocks of the Covid 19 epidemic and the devastating war in Ukraine and the possible ways in which they will shape the future of Cyprus, Europe and the World. One overwhelming message which emerged from the forum was a need for the EU members to take united action to weather both the economic and the political storm. Finance minister, Constantinou Petrides, was one of many to note that the situation in Ukraine had provided much needed impetus for Europe to accelerate its shift to green energy and self-sufficiency. Petrides also raised a word of caution about the need to protect the most vulnerable from rapidly increasing fuel costs. Alongside this Energy, Commerce and Industry minister, Natasa Pilides, provided a more detailed analysis of the energy strategy in Cyprus. Foreign minister, Nicos Christodoulides also focused on a need for all EU and European countries to co-operate and share the burden of dealing with the constant stream of migrants in a humane fashion.
In an impressive speech, Francesco Ceccato, CEO Barclays Europe, stressed the mammoth task of rebuilding which lies ahead when the Ukrainian conflict is eventually resolved. He stressed that to be successful Europe would need to unite around a plan akin to the post WWII Marshall Plan. The Marshall Plan successfully harnessed the resources required to rebuild large swathes of the continent and regenerate its economies. Francesco's belief was that whilst bank finance can play a part in the rebuilding exercise, the only way such a plan could be properly funded is for EU members put aside individual interests and unite to create a true single capital market such as existed in London and the USA at the time of the Marshall Plan. Members of the diplomats' panel also stressed a need for the EU and Europe to unite against populism and tyranny.
Whilst all eyes may currently be on Russia, Dr Niklas Swanstrom, Executive Director, Institute for Security and Development Policy, noted that at least one eye should also be on China. He warned that China is becoming increasingly inward looking and authoritarian as demonstrated by Xi Jinping's actions in effectively making himself leader of the ruling Communist Party for life. China's aggressive attitude towards Taiwan has also escalated with Swanstrom believing that some form of military action falling short of full invasion is likely which will disrupt shipping supply lines using the Formosa Strait.
Fortunately, however, not all was doom and gloom. Managing Partner Elias Neocleous participated in a panel discussion with Andreas Neocleous (Cyta) and Petr Valov (Exness) which discussed the many actual and potential impacts of technology on business. All concurred that technology provided the route for western companies to lower costs and remain competitive. They are also facilitating the move to renewable energy production and sustainability. Elias, however, did note that 'bad elements' exist within the tech industry causing threats via malware, spyware etc. and invading privacy. He raised the issue of how this negative impact can be addressed given that the rate of technical development far outstrips the rate at which governments can move.