The agro-food and pharmaceutical industries are evolving into strong players in the Greek exports business, as drugs continue to constitute Greece’s most important exporting commodity – fuel products excluded – while eight out of the top 20 Greek exports are food and agricultural products.
The question is how long exporting companies can stand the pressures on external trade coming from inside and outside the country’s borders. Export data for the first nine months of the year are comforting but do not really generate any optimism, as the relative rise recorded is only down to the soaring of exports in September.
According to the Panhellenic Exporters Association, the total value of Greek exports (including fuel products) in January-September 2016 came to 18.31 billion euros, against 19.02 billion euros in the same period last year. This constitutes a decline of 3.7 percent on 2015, which would have been far greater were it not for the major rise seen in September. In the year to end-August exports had shrunk 6.3 percent from a year earlier.
Association president Christina Sakellaridi remains reserved: “Although exports data – excluding fuel – would be a sign of another record in terms of value, as this has been the second consecutive year exceeding 18 billion euros, figures so far include comparisons with the irregular periods of last year, particularly the third quarter, when the capital controls had just been imposed and exports took a direct hit.”
Nevertheless if European Commission forecasts for a 3.6 percent annual rise in exports next year prove correct, this will entail a gross domestic product increase of at least 1.5 percent.
After fuel products – which due to their price are permanently at the top – the second place in the list of the most important exported products belongs to drugs. The top 20 also includes olive oil, cheese, fish, vegetables, fruit (such as apricots, cherries and peaches) and cotton.
Italy remains the top destination of Greek exports, followed by Germany, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Turkey.