BUSINESS

Greece still unable to woo investors

ILIAS BELLOS

Deputy Economy Minister Stergios Pitsiorlas addresses the 1st InvestGR forum.

TAGS: Economy

Greece continues to show considerable structural weaknesses and problems in attracting foreign direct investment, according to the chief executives of major foreign groups with a presence in this country.

Although in certain sectors there is the sense of some steps being taken in the right direction, and the general economic concerns are subsiding, any investment moves that are considered concern small amounts of capital, definitely below those required for the country to return to robust growth.

These are the main conclusions of a Metron Analysis survey presented on Tuesday at the InvestGR forum in Athens that focused on foreign investment in Greece. The companies that participated in the event have invested some 2.3 billion euros in the country over the last five years, which amounts to about 20 percent of total FDI in Greece in that period.

“Despite the positive fact of the exit from the economic crisis, a series of inherent factors remain as obstacles to attracting investments and are assessed negatively,” said chairman and chief executive officer of Metron Analysis Stratos Fanaras.

The most important obstacles, according to the survey, are the tax environment, the impression of corruption, the administrative environment, the slow pace of justice and the low level of research and innovation. It is only the factor of existing human resources that is viewed as satisfactory by the majority of CEOs.

Even so, two out of three CEOs share the view that Greece’s image as an investment destination will improve in the coming years, while eight in 10 said it is very or quite likely that the enterprises they represent will invest in Greece in the future; a notable six out of 10 even said that those investments are scheduled within the next 12 months.

However, data show that those investments will not be of the size required for growth to accelerate: The gap that must be plugged for a return to pre-crisis growth levels is estimated at between 18 and 20 billion euros. In the last five years FDI in Greece added up to just 11.6 billion.

PricewaterhouseCoopers executive director Costas Mitropoulos told the forum that “there is a giant gap amounting to 10-12 percent per year that must be filled,” adding that the state must bridge it by facilitating investments and offering incentives.

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