Greece is one of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s most important trading partners, and the ratification of the Prespes agreement would both aid in the normalization of relations between the two Balkan neighbors and give Greece the opportunity to advance its status as the gateway to Eastern and Central Europe.
“For Thessaloniki, the solution of the name issue is a necessary condition for the city’s port to evolve into a real Euro-port and serve as a junction for the interconnection with the Danube River and a Mediterranean starting point for trade with Central Europe,” the head of the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece, Athanasios Savvakis, has said. Some 30 percent of Thessaloniki port’s turnover is estimated to concern FYROM trade.
Last year Greece was FYROM’s third most important trading partner, behind Germany and Britain, accounting for a share of 6.1 percent of the neighboring country’s trade transactions, according to its statistical service. Bilateral trade volume amounted to 726.1 million euros in 2017, against 597.4 million in 2016. The main products that Greece exports to FYROM are fuel products, fruit and vegetables, iron and steel products, textiles and machinery. Greece imports apparel, tobacco and other products from FYROM. In 2016 Greece’s imports from FYROM amounted to 221 million euros.
Greek companies have been among the biggest investors in FYROM: In the 1997-2016 period Greece ranked third among the countries of origin of foreign direct investments in FYROM, focusing mostly on fuel, banking and retail commerce, with the total capital invested exceeding 1 billion euros. Greek businesses have created over 25,000 jobs in the Balkan country, with companies such as OKTA (a Hellenic Petroleum subsidiary), USJE-Titan (of the Titan group) and Vero supermarkets (of the Veropoulos family) ranking among the top-25 enterprises in FYROM in terms of turnover.
About a quarter of FYROM’s population, or some 500,000 people, visit Greece for holidays every year, showing a preference for resorts in northern Greece, among them Halkidiki and Pieria.
There remains a degree of concern among Greek enterprises about the names and trademarks of enterprises and products using the terms “Macedonia” and “Macedonian” that trade abroad.