BUSINESS

Export companies turn to the Balkans and the Med

Greek export companies have turned to the markets of Southeast Europe and the Mediterranean in recent years following political and economic developments in the region such as the demise of communist regimes and European Union accessions. At the same time, the percentage of Greek products being absorbed by traditional Western markets, such as France and the UK, is shrinking.

Furthermore Greek exporters’ penetration of new markets is increasing as they diversify their client base and reduce their dependence on a handful of economies: In 1988 the top five markets absorbed 64 percent of Greek exports (excluding fuel), while last year the five biggest absorbed just 38 percent, according to data compiled in a survey by the Panhellenic Exporters Association and the Exports Research Center (KEEM) regarding the top five destinations for Greek products in the period from 1988 to 2012.

The survey found that from 1988 to 1994, the top five markets for Greek products were the unchanged group of Germany, Italy, France, Britain and the US. Bulgaria appeared in the top five for the first time in 1995, ejecting the US, which returned next year to stay on until 2000.

From 1992, the share of the top five markets gradually declined, dropping from 62 percent that year to 49 percent in 1996. It has not risen above that figure since then.

The association notes that the turning point in the period from 1988 to 2012 was the mid-1990s, when Greek investments in the Balkans, and particularly Bulgaria, strengthened the country’s presence in those neighboring countries in terms of exports.

The accession of Bulgaria and Cyprus to the European Union was also an important development as since 2007 they have been fighting for third spot among export markets for Greek products. Greek companies and their subsidiaries have been very active in the latter two countries, while some have moved their production units there and supply them with raw materials.

Germany’s dominance ended in 2011, when Italy rose to the first spot in the exports chart for Greek products.

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