Embassies of the country are a reflection of the country abroad. When it comes to the world of business, embassies must promote the business interests of the country they represent and identify possible opportunities that the country they are based in can offer for business in their home country.
Useful links need to be established between firms in each country. Embassies should try to resolve any issues that arise and hold events with firms from the country they represent and representatives of the country in which they are based. They should monitor developments and make suggestions to their government at home, and in particular to the Department of Commerce, on what actions local firms should take.
Do our embassies meet these basic requirements? We highly doubt it. From what we’ve read, we’re under the impression that the staff is looking out for themselves and pursuing self-interest, and added to that is the recent auditor general’s report revealing excessive spending and the like.
In terms of promoting business, our embassies are basically useless.
A few years ago, our company wanted to expand its activities in Germany in order to promote real estate investment in Cyprus in this wealthy country. We even visited the then minister of commerce because we didn’t get a response from our embassy in Germany. We proposed to the embassy to invite some German commercial firms to the embassy house and offered to pay any price. After the intervention of the minister, we duly obtained the German directory of real estate agents so that we could call and so on without any investigation on their part.
We then made a similar offer to our Iranian ambassador. He replied that he did not have the staff to handle it. We understand that we pay the diplomatic staff, and they show no interest.
Embassies should be the country’s main asset in business development. For example, the former High Commissioner of Great Britain in Cyprus, Mr. M. Kidd, did not miss even a month without any reminder of his presence and the need for an exchange of views. He contacted us based on inquiries from UK firms, organized lunches for example, and sent out a questionnaire to get our opinion on Brexit and so on. Well done, Mr. High Commissioner.
Business associations in Cyprus should put pressure on the government in the hope that it will wake up the staff of our embassies abroad, especially those who bear the title of “commercial attache”. A business forum should be created in order to plan a roadmap for promoting Cypriot business through our embassies abroad.
For this to be successful, those in other countries must have the ability and energy to explore opportunities there, report to the Foreign Office and make appointments with commercial representatives.
It will happen? We highly doubt it. The indifference of civil services reigns in Cyprus.
Antonis Loizou & Associates EPE – real estate appraisers, real estate agents and real estate consultants