Greek business is not hiding its concern about the spread of the new coronavirus, primarily in China and Italy, even though Greek enterprises have yet to feel any major negative impact from the virus. Certain local companies, mainly food exporters, have even benefited from the current situation, as many Italian consumers have been panic buying over the last few days. However, Greek companies acknowledge that any unrest in the market is never positive at the end of the day.
According to importers and foreign company representatives who spoke to Kathimerini, shortages in Greece have been limited to date and only concern products that are imported from China, mainly spare parts for machinery. There has been no effects on imports from Italy yet, but they say this is only because it is still too early for that.
Available data show that Italy is Greece’s second largest supplier, with imports exceeding 4.15 billion euros per year. Greece imports machinery, plastics, cars, pharmaceuticals, apparel, coffee etc from Italy. Furthermore, it is through Italy that a number of products made in Asian countries (China, Vietnam etc) come to Greece, such as sneakers.
There is – at least – that short-term benefit for Greek food producers (especially dairy companies, fish farming enterprises etc) that export to Italy thanks to the increased demand for food: “Consumers are rapidly stocking up on food supplies due to the uncertainty. Of course they also forget about it just as quickly,” the head of a well-known dairy company told Kathimerini.
Producers of olive oil, second in Greece’s list of exports to Italy, say that the exporting period for bulk olive oil to Italy is almost over. They add that any risk for them remains small for now, as Greek loads mainly head to southern Italy, where the olive oil companies are located. Greek exports to Italy came to 3.66 billion euros in 2019.
Greek companies are also concerned about the possibility that international exhibitions might be canceled or may only draw a small number of visitors-buyers over virus fears, as this would translate into difficulties in attracting new clients.