Bureaucracy, low liquidity, a lack of state support, money and human resources wasted on nonproductive activities often done for the sake of appearances or for various entities to justify their existence... These are some of the main problems that exporting enterprises face today, making them pessimistic despite September’s uptick.
Exporters’ representatives appear very reserved, saying that only if the impressive performance recorded in September continues in the following months can 2016 post a marginal increase on 2015.
Exports (including fuel products) rose 16.6 percent year-on-year in September, but this has only served to absorb the losses recorded in previous months, from 6.3 percent at end-August to 3.7 percent at end-September on an annual basis.
According to exporters’ estimates, exports of goods will see their share of gross domestic product drop to 13.3 percent this year from 14.5 percent in 2015 and 15.33 percent in 2014.
“We have been discussing the investment incentives law since last year and it is only recently that four of its eight aspects were activated. The delays are huge, as in the case of ESPA [the European Commission-subsidized National Strategic Reference Framework]. We are tired of waiting, as we have also grown tired of waiting for the bailout tranches over the last seven years,” the head of the Panhellenic Exporters Association, Christina Sakellaridi, said on Monday at an Athens event on Greek exports.
She added that “there is no point in organizing missions to countries where we just make exports worth 3 million euros [per annum]. Let’s do business in markets where our products already have a presence and there is great interest in them.” Sakellaridi further commented on exporters’ participation in international shows, saying that “we cannot think of increasing our exports just through exhibitions.”
Alexandra Hazapi Pitta, of the Attiki-Pittas honey company, said she would like to see more interest in resolving the problems of exporters: “It took us five months to get a certificate issued for exporting to Egypt and another four for China,” she stated.
On top of the other liquidity problems – i.e. the capital controls, the lack of bank financing and delays in getting alternative funding instruments such as the investment incentives law up and running – exporters also face the state’s reluctance to pay its dues. There is a backlog of tax rebates to exporters amounting to 1 billion euros, said the head of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Constantinos Michalos.