By Dimitra Manifava
Greek exporters are concerned about the consequences of the recent developments in Ukraine, mainly because they fear countermeasures by Russia against the European Union through the imposition of an embargo on agricultural products. According to sources from the Panhellenic Exporters Association (PSE), Russia has already rejected Greek strawberry loads as a warning.
This is a particularly serious matter for the local industry as Russia and Ukraine absorb as much as 50 percent of Greece’s strawberry exports and some 25 percent of peach exports, both fresh and preserves.
PSE data suggest that the possible consequences for the Greek economy could add up to many billions of euros as they would affect several production sectors, as well as the service sector, such as tourism and transport, for example. Greek-Russian bilateral trade amounts to 6.5 billion euros per annum, while for this year Greece had been expecting some 1.2 million Russian tourists, whose average per capita spending last year came to 800 euros. At the same time Greece imports crude oil, fuel products and natural gas from Russia, totaling around 5 billion euros per year.
All this means that, directly or indirectly, some 4 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, or 7.5 billion euros, is at stake. About 41 percent (or 200 million euros per year) of the country’s total exports to Russia concerns agricultural products. Moreover, fur product exports will also face considerable problems, as fur accounts for 23 percent of all Greek exports to Russia, exceeding 110 million euros per year.
The problems in the Greek exports sector and the solutions that could be found were the focus of a meeting on Tuesday under Panayiotis Michalos, the Foreign Ministry’s general secretary for international economic relations and development. PSE president Christina Sakellaridi proposed an alternative action plan providing for bilateral agreements between Greece and countries with special trade ties with Russia, such as Serbia and Moldova.