ECONOMY

Export-boosting measures to tie in with Olympic Games

Greece yesterday announced measures to boost its lagging exports, including tying them in with next year’s Olympic Games and making a push for the Chinese market. Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis noted that exporting companies could no longer depend on currency fluctuations to offset their lack of competitiveness in world markets as they used to do prior to the adoption of a single currency. «This practice is outdated and not possible in a euro environment in which we live,» he said, urging a more comprehensive strategy which focuses on quality products and services and promoting them. Earlier this year, the government said it aims to boost exports by one percentage point over the next three years through improved marketing and targeting new markets. Christodoulakis said more efforts would be made to exploit the 2004 Olympic Games, both in promoting Greek products abroad and in attracting investors to Greece. Sydney, host of the 2000 Olympic Games, reaped enormous economic and tourist benefits from the sporting event. Sales of Australian products and services came to a staggering $2 billion in the post-Olympics period. Tourism receipts jumped to $6 billion in the following year as Australia gained greater recognition due to the Games. The Athens Business Club, created five months ago by state investment agency ELKE along the lines of the hugely successful Business Club Australia, is expected to play a key role in exploiting the opportunities offered by next year’s Olympic Games. In addition to promoting Greek products and services, it is expected to provide a link between exporters and buyers abroad. The National Exports Council is due to look into proposals intended to help Greek companies break into the Chinese market. Greece exported just $48 million worth of products to China in 2001 compared with imports of Chinese goods valued at $900 million. Customs offices, often criticized for their delays and inefficiency, are now more able to cope with the demands of exporters following the implementation of measures upgrading their productivity, Christodoulakis said. A new computerized system, simplified procedures and the recruitment of more skilled employees «have reduced time and costs [for exporters],» he said. Government assistance notwithstanding, Christodoulakis said businesses themselves should take action to boost their competitiveness. «Companies are obligated to take measures to forestall the adverse effect of their competitiveness,» he said.