By Stelios Orphanides
British High Commissioner Matthew Kidd said he does not believe that Brexit will impact Cyprus’s commercial ties with the UK, including in the areas of tourism and trade, even as Cyprus is a country affected most by Brexit.
Kidd, who was commenting in Greek in an interview to state-radio CyBC on Monday, said that the exchange rate of sterling and the quality of services offered to tourists will be important.
“But Brexit itself will not impact tourism directly,” he said. “Also, commercial ties will depend on the performance of our economy. We believe that we have advantages which will allow us to successfully maintain (post-Brexit) business ties with the rest of the world and also Europe”.
The UK is Cyprus’s most important source of incoming tourism, sector that accounts directly or indirectly for roughly a quarter of the economy.
The British diplomat said that divorce negotiations which started this summer have produced progress in the area of the rights of EU citizens in the UK and Britons living in other member states and did not rule out further progress in other areas in the next rounds of discussion.
EU chief negotiator in the Brexit talks Michel Barnier said on Thursday that he hadn’t made decisive progress with his British counterpart David Davis adding that differences include the UK’s demand that it still has a say in the single market, the UK’s financial obligations after the divorce and whether the European Court of Justice can rule on matters concerning EU citizens in the UK.
Kidd said that despite a drop in the exchange rate of sterling following the June 2016 referendum in which British voters decided to leave the EU, there are no second thoughts on Brexit. Words like hard or soft Brexit are not important, he continued adding that while “the solution will be complicated and difficult, it can turn out positive both for us and the other countries. This is the common target”.
He also said that for students commencing their studies this and next year, the situation will remain unchanged and they will continue benefiting from the current tuition fees.
“The sector will remain very important and we will find a solution that will allow students from Cyprus and elsewhere to continue to feel that Britain is a suitable country to study in,” he said.