ECONOMY

A club fit for Olympic business

About 2,000 Greek and foreign firms have registered with the Athens Business Club (ABC) 2004, set up by the National Economy and Finance Ministry and the Hellenic Center for Investment (ELKE), with a view to promoting contacts and tapping the business potential of the Olympic Games. «The holding of the Olympic Games in Greece is a unique opportunity for promoting our country, its economic advantages, achievements and potential abroad. During the Games, Greece will be at the center of world interest and attract a large number of visitors that will include business leaders with a decisive role in international economic developments,» Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis told a presentation yesterday. Most of the 2,000 firms are foreign and telecommunications is the sector that has shown the strongest interest to date (158 enterprises). The next two largest categories are clothing (89) and food and beverages (78). The total includes 135 companies from the US, 133 from Bulgaria, 111 from Germany, 105 from the UK, 59 from Australia and 56 from Italy. ABC 2004 aims at networking Greek and foreign enterprises through a special webpage before, during and after the Games (www.abc2004.gr). Firms registering as members can establish links and «matchmake» with a view to exploring commercial and investment deals. «Our ultimate goal is a ‘quality revolution’ which will bolster the attractiveness of Greek products and take a significant step toward turning Greece into an attractive destination for commerce, investment and tourism,» said Alogoskoufis. Contacts will take place in a special section of the Sarogleion Mansion, the armed forces officers’ club in Rigillis Street, not far from Syntagma Square. During the Games (August 13-29), ABC 2004 will host about 60 presentations for foreign visitors on business opportunities in Greece, the main sectors of the economy and the regions. The drive also involves the collaboration of Athens 2004, the organizers of the Olympic Games, the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV), the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (HEPO) and the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Alogoskoufis said that besides the networking of firms, the effort involves the three more programs: – The Greek Innovation and Technology Showcase, for competitive firms in advanced technology sectors with a strong export potential. The program includes an exhibition of Greek company participants at the training center of the National Bank of Greece in Glyfada as well as promotion on ABC 2004’s website. – Hospitality for 30 selected foreign economic and business journalists, with a view to the promotion of the Greek economy and firms abroad. – «Bridge: Athens 2004 – Beijing 2008,» aimed at establishing links for the development of economic and business cooperation with China. The program includes the promotion in China of Greek enterprises that participated and acquired know-how in the preparations for the staging of the Athens Olympics, the organization of business delegations and permanent exhibitions of Greek products in China. A similar program of business contacts during the Sydney Olympics in 2000 netted deals valued at the equivalent of about 1.3 billion euros.