ECONOMY

Economy and development ministers woo UK investors

Greece is emerging as a hub of inter-European networks in the Balkans and hopes to attract large investment schemes in key sectors such as energy and tourism, Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos told a conference on «Greece: The Economic Center of Southeastern Europe» in London yesterday. «Greece is the guiding force in the development of the countries of Southeastern Europe and is emerging as the center of economic and business activity in the area. Our country is the center of inter-European networks in the region, both as regards electricity and natural gas but also transport and telecommunications,» he said. Tsochadzopoulos said the government was pursuing a policy of boosting technological innovation in Greek business that will raise competitiveness. «The country is now steadily moving from the production of low-technology goods to advanced-technology goods,» he said. He urged British firms to tap the large potential for energy investment opening up with the construction of natural gas-fired power stations and the planned pipeline connecting Turkey with Greece. Tsochadzopoulos said it was time for Greece to increase its promotion of tourism in the UK, while introducing realistic incentives for foreign investment in the Greek tourism market. Also speaking at the conference was Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis who focused on investment opportunities in a high-growth economy such as Greece’s. Like Tsochadzopoulos, he referred to tourism opportunities but also to initiatives to develop sports installations after the Athens Olympics. Christodoulakis also met yesterday with UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown. «In my meeting with Mr Brown, we discussed the European economy, which seems to be recovering,» Christodoulakis said afterward. «However, in order to make the recovery permanent, we must proceed quickly with structural changes that will make the European economy work more efficiently, in a more integrated fashion and with better fiscal results,» he added. Among the speakers at the conference were the UK’s ambassador to Greece, Sir David Madden, and Foreign Office Minister Baroness Symons. Baroness Symons who, as trade minister, has often cooperated with Greek counterparts, praised Greece’s economic performance during a difficult international environment.