In Brief

War further threatens unenviable performance of Greek exports A war in Iraq would deal a serious blow to the already bad performance of Greek exports, said the chairwoman of the Panhellenic Exporters’ Association (PSE), Christina Sakellaridi. In the 11 months to November 2002, Greek exports fell 5 percent year-on-year to 10.04 million euros. «The global recession, the significant and sudden rise in the euro and the uncertainty linked to tension in the Middle East this year will have an adverse impact on exports, which at best have stagnated in recent years,» she said. Exports to the Arab world, which absorbs about 10 percent of the total, had picked up recently, but have been adversely affected again by developments. Sakellaridi said exports are hurt by deeper problems and decreasing competitiveness, which have led them to fall from 13 percent of GDP in 1997 to 8 percent today. She said Greek firms must be encouraged to undertake various forms of collaboration with foreign counterparts, such as subcontracting. Vodafone profits surge in nine months to December Mobile operator Vodafone-Panafon reported 12 percent pretax profit growth to 209.8 million euros in the April-December 2002 period year-on-year. Turnover was up 28.3 percent to 947.5 million. Average return per user (ARPU) rose 9 percent to 31.3 euros, advancing more impressively by 21.9 percent in the last quarter of the period in question. Operating profits grew 18.9 percent to 369.8 million euros, while total investment reached 116.4 million euros, representing 12.3 percent of sales. Romania Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos promised his Romanian hosts in Bucharest yesterday that Greece will assist Romania in negotiations over market deregulation with a view to EU membership, and said state-run Hellenic Petroleum is interested in participating in the country’s privatization program. Sugar Hellenic Sugar Industry (EBZ) signed a 3-million-euro deal with Serbia’s privatization agency for the acquisition of 70 percent of Akcionarsko Drustvo Fabrika Secera sugar plant, of a daily capacity of 4,500 tons. EBZ undertook to invest 7.8 million euros in the plant in the next five years. Consumer protection The Development Ministry is holding a European seminar on «Administrative Cooperation and Consumer Protection» on February 24. A regulation on commercial transactions, to include a lifting of the ban on sales below cost (loss leaders), will be ready by year-end, a ministry official said. Motor Oil Shareholders of petroleum company Motor Oil approved a buyback scheme for up to 1 percent of shares, at a maximum price of 10.30 euros and minimum of 5.00 euros per share, within 12 months. The company said the scheme is aimed at boosting the share price. UPS Airline services firm Goldair has signed an agreement on distribution in Greece of goods carried by US-based courier United Parcel Service (UPS), which flies to Athens five times weekly. Goldair said the deal will boost the ability to forward Greek merchandise abroad and make Athens a regional transit goods hub.