Working in Cyprus?

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Living in Cyprus, from Denmark

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Cyprus at a Glance

Working in Cyprus

Cyprus might seem like a dream come true for the sun-worshipping expat. But the island nation in the Mediterranean had a lot more in store for its working population. If the service sector can weather the crisis that is wrecking the economy, working in Cyprus will become a great opportunity again.

Cyprus: A Brief Economic Overview

Expats interested in working in Cyprus could look forward to entering a work environment with all the assets of a modern economy that focuses heavily on the service sector. While there is still some agriculture and mining to be found in Cyprus – the name itself has its roots in the Greek work for ‘copper’ – the national economy is firmly based on its tertiary sector. In 2012, 80% of all employees working in Cyprus had a job in the nation’s diverse services sector.

However, the country is now struggling with a number of problems: Not only do the small local market – necessitating foreign trade - and the dependence on fuel imports pose considerable impediments. Its strong financial ties with Greece also caused Cyprus to become deeply entangled with the Eurozone crisis, leading to a breakdown of the Cypriot banking industry in 2012-2013. The crisis is ongoing, and according to economic experts, the country will face a recession for the next few years.

Tourism

Many an expat working in Cyprus today probably got to know the island through one of its main assets. With its beautiful location right in the Mediterranean Sea, its virtually uninterrupted, year-long sunshine, and plentiful cultural treasures to boost, it should not be very surprising that Cyprus is a popular tourism location. In fact, the tourism sector is one of the country’s most important economic pillars, contributing a sizeable share to the national GDP. Cyprus’s hotels, restaurants, bars, sights, and other parts of the hospitality industry have provided safe employment opportunities for many Cypriots for decades.

The partial dependence of the local economy on the – traditionally fairly volatile – tourism sector has been tangible in the economic downturn of 2008/09. The declining number of visitors has made obvious that, for the nation’s economy to be stable, working in Cyprus cannot be synonymous with tourism.

However, while Cyprus has made major steps towards diversifying its economy, the tourism sector is also going through a major overhaul at the moment. Industry representatives hope that the high number of visitors in 2012 might be indicative of a positive trend and help to secure growth and future opportunities for working in Cyprus –  in this field at least.

The Services Sector

An incredible 81% of the national GDP is generated within the third sector. Apart from the obvious contributions of the tourism sector, the employees working in Cyprus’s banking and financial services sector accounted for a nearly 9% of the gross domestic product. Unfortunately, this key source of income and job opportunities has now been badly damaged.

Real estate and construction have equally suffered from the impact of the financial crisis. It will take them a good long while to recover and make working in Cyprus once more attractive.

Another main staple of the services sector is shipping. Limassol is one of the busiest ports in the EU and the main point of entry and exit for goods of all kind, as well as one of the largest ship management centers in Europe. While working in Cyprus’s maritime trade is now hampered by the lack in domestic consumption (and thus in imports), another factor of the isle’s location could help revive the national economy.

Manufacturing and Energy

Energy production is a new potential growth factor. Cyprus does have a relatively large manufacturing industry that produces, among other things, food and beverages, clothing and textiles, plastics and chemicals. However, especially in the latter fields, Cyprus is feeling the competition of emerging markets with plenty of low-income workers.

Strangely enough, it is the country’s ongoing difficulties in providing energy for its industrial plants and resident population that could contribute to resolving the economic crisis. Cyprus is planning to exploit natural gas supplies, which were discovered in its coastal waters. This venture, as well as a greater interest in renewable energy and green tech, may lead to new economic projects, returning foreign investment, and more jobs for working in Cyprus.

Cyprus: An International Business Location

The island’s great openness towards international businesses has always been one of the most important aspects for expats interested in working in Cyprus. The Cypriot government is actively promoting the nation’s location as a gateway to three continents – Europe, Asia, and Africa – and thus attracting multinational corporations who consider working in Cyprus as a strategically smart move to expand to further markets.

Right now, foreign investors are understandably reluctant. But if Cyprus manages to ride out the recession of 2013 and 2014, this could change again. Then, working in Cyprus will hopefully return to being a truly viable option, for locals and expats alike.

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