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Cyprus offers Thai investors EU citizenship

CYPRUS IS WOOING Thais by offering a lifetime European Union citizenship for Bt100 million. “The country is targeting more capital from Thailand, attracting investors with easy migrant permission to become an EU citizen through investment.

“The country expects to raise capital from Thai investors in prospective sectors including property, energy, oil and gas, infrastructure and tourism,” Cypriot High Commissioner Demetrios Theophylactou said yesterday.

A series of incentives have been introduced by the Cypriot government to attract overseas investors.

Competitive deals over its EU counterparts include lower capital-gains tax and lower minimum capital, making it easy to migrate to Europe. Permanent residencies are going for 300,000 euros (Bt11.6 million) and citizenships for a minimum of 2.5 million euros.

It was a good time to boost investment opportunities and offer incentive programmes to Thai investors as Cyprus’ economy has diversified and prospered, he said.

The country has a modern, free-market, service-based economy.

Its competitive advantages include a strategic location in the EU and euro zone, a robust legal and regulatory framework, ease of doing business, incentives, and good infrastructure and quality of life.

Theophylactou, who is Cyprus’ high commissioner to India but is also accredited to Thailand, met with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to encourage trade and other cooperation.

Emerging from the 2013 financial crisis, Cyprus, according to the International Monetary Fund, has per capita income above the EU average and has been sought as a base for several offshore businesses because of its low tax rates.

The Cyprus Town Planning Department recently announced a series of incentives to stimulate the property market and increase the number of property developments in the country’s town centres.

Earlier measures

This follows earlier measures to give immigration permits quickly to third-country nationals investing in Cyprus property.

Overseas investors will be eligible to apply for the permanent residency scheme in Cyprus through a purchase of property with a minimum price of Bt11.6 million, while Cyprus citizenship requires a minimum investment of Bt100 million.

Investment options include the purchase of state bonds, a Cypriot company and real estate such as houses, offices, shops and hotels, or an investment in financial assets or a deposit in a Cypriot bank.

An attractive tax system is also offered to overseas investors.

The Cypriot government allows a tax exemption on investment returns, such as dividend income, profits from overseas permanent establishments and gains from the sale of securities. There is no withholding tax on dividends, interest or royalties paid from Cyprus.

Tax incentives are offered to start-ups and investors in innovation. A national interest deduction is also available for new investment.

Other incentives include an intellectual-property tax regime.

Over the past two decades, the Cypriot government has adopted a series of measures and introduced structural reforms to modernise and liberalise the state and its economy.

Cyprus has been a member of the EU since 2004 and the euro zone since 2008.

The country has applied to join the Schengen Visa Zone, which will soon make it even easier for citizenship-holders to travel between and to Schengen Area member states.

Cyprus’ key industries are tourism, professional services, banking and financial services, shipping, renewable energy, and oil and gas.

The existence of deep-water natural-gas reserves in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone has attracted worldwide attention and significant investment from leading independent energy companies.

Among the key industries, tourism has a high direct contribution to gross domestic product, as the direct contribution of travel and tourism to GDP in 2013 reached 6.8 per cent.

The large-scale development of a single integrated casino resort is set to open soon. The recovery in the economy reached a turning point last year, following three years of contraction in real GDP.

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