The Cypriot passport is still in the top ten of the most powerful passports in the world, having actually gone even a little higher.
In particular, according to the ranking by the Passport Index for 2019, the Cypriot passport is in eighth place, up from tenth in 2018.
The Cypriot passport offers access to 162 countries compared to 157 it used to offer in 2018, winning over eight more countries, for which it grants visa-free access.
More specifically, Cypriot passport holders can travel visa-free to 122 countries, while they will need a visa upon their arrival in 40 countries. On the other hand, they will need a visa to travel to 36 countries.
The rise recorded by the Cypriot passport is impressive, as in 2017 it was in 13th place, with access to 149 countries, while in 2016 it was in 12th, with access to 143 countries. In 2015 it was again in 12th place, offering access to 147 countries.
First and with the highest rise the UAE passport
The most powerful passport is that of the United Arab Emirates, which offers access to 175 countries. Holders of this passport can travel visa-free to 115 countries, while they will need a visa upon their arrival in 60 countries and a visa to travel to 23 countries.
In addition to the first place, the UAE passport is also the one with the highest rise this year, gaining 36 more countries for which it offers visa-free access.
The most powerful passports in the world
In second place are Finland, Luxembourg and Spain offering access to 168 countries.
Denmark, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Switzerland, Japan, South Korea, Ireland and the US have the third most powerful passport with access to 167 countries.
In fourth place, with access to 166 countries, are the passports of Sweden, Singapore, France, Belgium, Malta, Greece and Norway.
Lithuanian, Icelandic, UK and Canadian passport holders have access to 165 countries.
In sixth place, with access to 164 countries, are the passports of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, New Zealand and Australia.
Those who have a Latvian, Estonian, Polish or Slovak passport have access to 163 countries, whole those with a Malaysian, Romanian or Monegasque passport have access to 161 countries.
The top ten most powerful passports are completed with the Croatian and Bulgarian passports, which offer access to 160 countries.
Fitch Ratings has upgraded Cyprus’ sovereign rating to investment grade, ‘BBB-‘ from ‘BB+’, with a stable outlook as the island expects a 2.7 per cent fiscal surplus this year and continuous growth that will boost receipts.
The upgrade followed similar action by Standard and Poor’s last month.
Finance Minister Harris Georgiades took to Twitter to thank everyone for their contribution.
“Forging ahead,” he added.
Fitch said the upgrade reflected the buoyant fiscal revenue and prudent fiscal policy, which will see Cyprus record a fiscal surplus of 2.7 per cent of GDP in 2018, compared with a target of 1.7 per cent in the April 2018 Stability Programme Update.
“We forecast the fiscal surplus will remain high at 2.4 per cent and 2.2 per cent of GDP in 2019 and 2020, respectively, compared with 3.1 per cent and 2.9 per cent targeted in the 2019 Draft Budgetary Plan. Robust economic growth will boost fiscal receipts, while previously adopted hiring freeze and collective agreements will likely limit growth in the wage bill.”
The rating agency said the island’s public debt will remain on a firm downward trajectory despite a one-off expected increase this year following the placement into Cyprus Cooperative Bank (CCB) of €3.19bn in government bonds (15.5 per cent of GDP) to facilitate the acquisition of part of the state-owned bank by Hellenic Bank.
The move will raise the debt to 104.4 per cent at end-2018 from 95.7 per cent in 2017.
“However, we expect large primary surpluses, robust growth and contained nominal effective interest rates will reduce GGGD/GDP to 70 per cent of GDP by 2027.”
The ratio of non-performing exposures (NPEs) to total loans fell to 40.3 per cent in the first half of the year from 44 per cent in 2017, partly supported by the announced securitisation by Bank of Cyprus (BoC) of €2.7bn gross NPEs.
The acquisition by HB of CCB’s good assets and the subsequent transfer into a run-off entity of CCB’s €5.7bn NPEs portfolio are estimated to have led to a further decrease in NPEs to 30 per cent in September 2018.
“This will support a substantial decrease in contingent liabilities stemming from the banking sector, although these remain large.”
Private sector debt and non-performing exposures remain high, however, at 226 per cent and 97 per cent of GDP in 1Q18, respectively, and constrain credit growth.
Household and corporate debt stood at 105 per cent and 121 per cent of GDP and a large part of the recent decline in such debt stemmed mostly from high GDP growth, debt-to-asset swaps, loan write-offs, rather than loan repayment.
“We expect private sector deleveraging will accelerate, however, as enforcement of new legal amendments, improving earnings and recovering house prices foster debt repayment. Economic growth will likely remain resilient to a faster resolution in NPEs as rising wages, a dynamic labour market and high household savings will help preserve disposable income and smooth consumption.”
Source: Cyprus Mail
Assets under management up 29% in first quarter to record high
Drawn by its location — straddling the regions of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa and with access to Eastern Europe, Russia and former Soviet republics — flexible legislation and lower costs, Asian funds are using Cyprus for their single European Union passport for investment across the bloc.
“There is an increasing trend for funds from countries who traditionally didn’t have strong economic ties with Cyprus such as China, India and even Japan, to establish a base in the country as their gateway to the EU,” Andreas Yiasemides, Vice President of the Cyprus Investment Funds Association, said in an interview in Nicosia.
The number of investment funds and assets under management have hit record highs, according to the Central Bank of Cyprus. At the end of March the number of funds rose to 123 from 110 at end December. Total assets under management rose by about 29 percent to 4.45 billion euros ($5.24 billion) from 3.45 billion euros. In Dec., 2008 there were 55 funds with 1.23 billion euros in assets under management.
Interest for the setup and authorization by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission of alternative investment funds runs strong, its Chairwoman Demetra Kalogerou said.
“There are 60 applications at this moment for different fund structures,” she said. “Of these, 44 have been pre-approved, subject to fulfilling certain conditions.”
While Cyprus’s existing funds framework legislation applies EU directives and regulations, the country is introducing additional changes to make the island even more attractive for investors and fund and asset managers to register and manage funds, said Marios Tannousis, Board Member and Secretary of CIFA.
These include legislation that will enable investors to know from the beginning the tax regime applied to the different types of funds, a fast-track procedure for launching so-called registered alternate investment funds and the establishment of a new category of investment managers known as mini-managers who will be licensed to operate below current alternative investment fund manager thresholds, he said.
Cypriot legislation for establishing funds is much more flexible than elsewhere in Europe, but investors remain well protected, Yiasemides said. Costs in Cyprus are much lower than elsewhere in the EU and that is very important for small and medium-sized fund managers that Cyprus is seeking to lure. “We can’t become Luxembourg from day one and so we aim to attract funds that take cost into account,” he said.
A physical presence in Cyprus also means funds contribute to the country’s domestic economy, renting or buying offices and paying fees to the state. They can carry out investments, especially in real estate, Yiasemides said.
Kylin Prime Fund, a Sino-European manager, established the Kylinprime Investment Fund in Cyprus as an alternative investment fund for the island’s assets. It invests in real estate, land development and infrastructure projects in Cyprus, financial assets of Cypriot companies or Cypriot organizations, such as bonds, bills issued with Cysec approval, according to its website. It is also one of the very few funds authorized to raise capital under the Cyprus citizenship by investment program, the company says.
“We are receiving inquiries for domiciling funds in Cyprus from China and India, but also from the Middle East and Europe including from Switzerland, Italy, Greece and Germany,” Tannousis said. “There is also some interest from U.K. funds managers to have back up funds in the country as their EU base, ” he said.
— With assistance by Vassilis Karamanis