Most enterprises are not export-minded

Most enterprises are not export-minded

About a third of Greek exports come from just a handful of enterprises, as the majority of local businesses have yet to discover the importance of an outward-looking approach.

According to data published by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) on Friday, just five Greek companies accounted for 30.6% of the total value of the country’s exports in 2019, while only 1.8% of the exporting firms in Greece carried out 60% of all of the country’s exports.

This indicated that it is not just small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that do not have an export-orientated character, but also many large ones. The reduced access to foreign markets is often related to the lack of innovation, a shortfall in productivity and the absence of an exporting culture.

A recent Bank of Greece study showed that exports take up only 14% of the sales of SMEs, against 38% for large enterprises. Just 31% of SMEs develop new products against 50% of larger firms.

However, the problem lies not only in quantity but also in quality. According to the same study SMEs export their output mainly to countries in the Balkans and Eastern Europe, while larger companies have better access to Western European markets, which is where the profit margins are greater.

ELSTAT figures also reveal that in 2019 a total of 17,789 enterprises performed exports with a total value of 31.32 billion euros. Most of that, 72.4% or €22.67 billion, came from manufacturing companies, the energy sector and firms in water supply, sewage processing, waste management and mining.

Another 22.2% of exports (or €6.95 billion) originated from commercial enterprises, and 5.4% (€1.7 billion) from the primary sector, construction and other services.

Small companies with up to 50 employees, which make up 90% of all exporters, performed 19.9% of all exports, or €6.24 billion worth. Medium-sized enterprises (with 50 to 249 workers each) that account for 7.9% of exporters made 20.1% of exports (another €6.29 billion), and large firms (with 250 staff or more) that constitute just 1.8% of exporters were behind 60% of all exports, i.e. €18.78 billion. 

Notably, just 100 companies accounted for 57.6% of Greece’s exports.

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