Lack of cash choking exporters

Nearly two in every five Greek export companies are at breaking point despite an increase in exports by 9.8 percent in August year-on-year (not including oil products) and in industrial output.

At the same time one, in seven exporting firms that sent their products abroad in 2009 has either closed down or has ceased its export activities, while the rate of new companies being established or starting to export has declined to just one-third of last year?s.

This is the worrying picture painted by data collected by the Panhellenic Exporters Association on the country?s exporting firms, which employ some 200,000 people, and is the result of a serious lack of cash flow.

The survey showed that 38.7 percent of the exporting companies sampled have severe liquidity problems and difficulty in accessing new lines of funding and have proceeded to cutting expenses. Last year this category of companies amounted to 25.2 percent, and in 2010 just 7.3 percent.

However, a significant number of companies have been set up over the last four years to export products or have become extrovert in that period: For every exporting company that shut down in that period three companies started exporting.

Cash flow problems have grown due to the state?s inability to return value-added tax where it is due. In fact it is the big exporting companies that have the biggest problem, compared with small and medium-sized enterprises, as they have greater operating expenses and are owed higher amounts in VAT returns. In terms of sectors, the biggest pressure is on food, pharmaceutical and transport companies.

During the presentation of the data on Tuesday, the Panhellenic Exporters Association made reference to a previous survey, conducted in association with the Development and Competitiveness Ministry, that had shown that the vast majority of enterprises that took part considered that they would be able to remain viable and expand their exporting activities if they had access to funds of 500,000 to 1 million euros.

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