US Commerce Secretary hails Greek economic turnaround, praises reform effort

US Commerce Secretary hails Greek economic turnaround, praises reform effort

US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross referred to the Greek economy’s return to a path of growth during a speech at an event held in the context of the 21st Annual Capital Link Invest in Greece Forum in New York on Tuesday.

Speaking at a dinner held to present the “2019 Capital Link Hellenic Leadership Award” to prominent investor John Paulson, the US Secretary of Commerce praised the government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, arguing that its pro-investment policy has significantly contributed to this success. “None of these positive results are a coincidence. Everything reflects the Mitsotakis government’s entrepreneurial policies,” Ross said.

Ross noted that he was looking forward to welcoming the Greek prime minister to Washington, where Mitsotakis is scheduled to meet US President Donald Trump on January 7 at the White House.

Ross described Greece’s recovery through a series of economic indicators. At the same time, he was optimistic about the outlook for the Greek economy but stressed that Athens must remain committed to reforms.

Referring to the lending rate, Ross said, “who would imagine that Greece’s sovereign debt would be trading at a lower rate than that of the Netherlands.” Even more surprising, he added, was that Greece was now borrowing at a cheaper rate than the US.

He referred to Greece’s upgrading by international ratings agencies while predicting that Greece’s credit profile can improve even further in the next two years if the government continues its reform efforts.

Regarding GDP growth in Greece, the Ross said it was moving at 1.8 pct, noting that it was one of the best performers in Europe. As for next year, he said that even according to the most conservative International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates, growth will reach 2.3 percent, noting that this figure is particularly good for European data.

He called this growth performance “impressive,” given that the Greek economy still carries the burden of producing high primary surpluses of 3.5 percent of GDP. In this light, he referred to other EU member-states that are experiencing growth difficulties, despite the stimulation of their economies, due to large primary deficits.

Regarding unemployment, Ross said that “it has fallen from a record 28 pct at the peak of the crisis to 16.7 percent projected for this year. This is the lowest rate in the last nine years. Although still higher than it was before the financial crisis, the unemployment rate is steadily decreasing every month and is projected to fall to 15.4 percent by 2020.”

Ross pointed out further positive developments, including rising property prices, strengthened consumer confidence and a rise in exports. [ANA-MPA]

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