ECONOMY

Exports find buyers in distant, lesser-known parts

Most Greeks heard about the Falkland Islands for the first time in 1982, during Britain?s war against Argentina over their sovereignty. This remote island group has likely slipped back into the realm of obscurity for most since then. One would guess that even fewer know of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean, between Hawaii and Papua New Guinea. Yet for several years now, a number of Greek companies have had export ties with these two island clusters, sending them various products such as pasta, string, life vests and television antennas, among others.

Commercial ties with these two distant island groups are confirmed by official data published by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) and the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (HEPO) for the eight-month period from January to August, which show that the Marshall Islands rank 57th among 100 top destinations for Greek products, with exports worth 22 million euros in that period. Over the same period, Greek exports to the Falklands came to 6.68 million euros, putting the country in 79th place.

The list of 100 export destinations also included the Bahamas, with the value of Greek exports during the same eight months coming to 5.1 million euros, and the range of products including petroleum-based products and wines.

The abovementioned cases are not the only oddities in the Greek export market worthy of note.

For the eight-month period between January and August, the fifth-most exported product from Greece to the United States (the USA ranked as Greece?s fourth-biggest client in the same period) was airplanes and related products, a trend that was also noted in figures for exports in 2010. No, Greece did not suddenly acquire an aeronautical industry, but it does do brisk business with used airplanes, which are sent to the US either as scrap metal or are sold on to low-cost airlines.

The same rules govern the export of ferryboats from Greece to Turkey, putting them at number 18 in the list of Greek exports, while Turkey is the country?s second-biggest customer.

The fact that Paris is considered the capital of world fashion has not stopped Greece from exporting clothes to France. Apparel ranks ninth among Greece?s exports, while France also buys a good deal of perfumes and cosmetics from Greece as well.

Greek exports reach as far as Singapore, which, at number 11 on the list of the country?s best customers, imports telecommunications equipment as well as car parts from Greece.