ECONOMY

Top marks for implementation of reforms

In the last 12 months Greece has been the runaway leader among eurozone countries in terms of compliance with plans for its fiscal adjustment and in promoting reforms, according to the annual “Euro Plus Monitor” report for 2012 issued by the Lisbon Council think tank and Berenberg Bank.

Regarding speed in adjusting to the economic crisis, Greece ranks top among the 20 countries examined in the report, with a score of 8.2 out of 10. Greece has managed to drastically curtail its current account deficit, not so much because of the increase in exports but rather mostly thanks to a big drop in imports as a result of the recession.

The country has also registered the biggest primary deficit reduction in the 2009-12 period, when it also recorded the biggest drop in labor cost per unit, which reached 12 percent.

Even so, despite the remarkable shift in the country’s competitiveness, Greece is starting from a very low level and will need a significant amount of time before it catches up with the rest of the eurozone member-states, the report notes.

All other countries that have received assistance from the eurozone rank high in this reform compliance list, with Ireland in second, Portugal in fourth and Spain in fifth, while Estonia sits in the third spot.

Nevertheless, the return of uncertainty regarding the Greek economy and the spread of the crisis to more and more European countries are reflected in the course of Greek exports in September, according to figures released on Monday by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).

Not including oil products, Greece’s exports declined by about 7 percent from the same month last year, amounting to 1.32 billion euros, against 1.42 billion in September 2011. This decline is due to the 6 percent drop in exports to European Union countries and to non-EU destinations by 8.8 percent. However, in the year to September exports increased by 5.3 percent year-on-year, climbing from 11.82 billion in 2011 to 12.44 billion in the first nine months of 2012.

Imports declined in September by 14.8 percent, taking the country’s current account deficit down by a considerable 22.5 percent on annual basis. In the first nine months of the year the deficit shrank by 21.6 percent.