ECONOMY

In Brief

Export decline slows down in January-August period Greek exports declined 2.7 percent in US dollar terms in the first eight months of 2002, in relation to the same period last year, according to provisional data of the Panhellenic Exporters’ Association (PSE). The rate of decline of exports to the rest of the EU was 3.4 percent and to the rest of the industrialized world 1.7 percent. However, PSE noted rises of 54 percent in exports to China and 140 percent to India, although their value remains at comparatively low levels, $41 million and $66 million respectively. «If this is not a circumstantial growth, the rise in exports to these two countries may become one of the most important developments in this decade after the spectacular growth of exports to Balkan countries in the previous decade,» PSE said. Exports to the countries of the former USSR jumped 14 percent. There were steep increases and declines in exports to various Arab countries; they rose 78 and 38 percent to Libya and Saudi Arabia, respectively, and fell by 32 percent to Lebanon, 31 percent to Tunisia and 24 percent to Egypt. PSE noted that exports fell 7 percent in the same period last year compared to the eight months of 2000. Imports rose over the same period from all geographical regions – although more slowly than previously – except Central and Eastern Europe, Bulgaria and Romania, North Africa and the Middle East. Imports rose especially from Russia (oil and natural gas). Loan and deposit rates seen falling slightly Banks are likely to respond with limited selective reductions in lending and deposit rates to the European Central Bank’s 0.50 percent basic rate cut yesterday, banking sources said, noting that real deposit rates (after deduction of inflation) are already in negative territory. The room for reductions in mortgage rates is seen as especially limited, but rates for business and consumer loans are clearly higher than the average in the rest of the EU. According to Bank of Greece data, the average-weighted short-term lending rate in the eurozone is 6.09 percent and in Greece 7.2 percent. Visiting Turkey The number of Greek tourists visiting Turkey rose 41 percent to 229,700 in the January-October 2002 period in relation to the same period last year. In October alone, the rise was 335 percent to 31,700 visitors. The total number of foreign tourists in Turkey in October was 1.42 million, up 33.3 percent from the same month of 2001. The rise in the 10 months was 12.4 percent to 12.02 million. Intralot Yugolot, the Yugoslav subsidiary of Greek gaming company Intralot, has won a 10-year contract with the country’s national gaming agency Narodna Lutrija to set up and provide the full range of support services for fixed-odds sports betting games. Yugolot will be paid a percentage of total revenues. Intralot said in a statement the Yugoslav betting market is estimated to have an annual potential of 300 million euros. Unemployment lower The rate of unemployment fell to 9.5 percent (419,300 people) in the third quarter from 9.6 in the previous quarter, the National Statistics Service said. Part-time workers represent 4.5 of the work force, against 3.6 percent last year. The volume of private legal building activity rose 10 percent in the January-August period year-on-year.