ECONOMY

Business leaders urge appreciation of Greece’s investment advantages

The president of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV), Odysseas Kyriakopoulos, urged local and foreign business leaders to invest in Greece after giving serious consideration to its favorable investment climate, the economy’s significant achievements and the upbeat outlook regarding its development. Speaking at the Athens Business Club 2004, Kyriakopoulos noted that the development of good relations between employers and labor in recent years has led to an increase in productivity, buoyant growth rates and a decline in inflation to about 3.5 percent. Industry, he said, accounts for 23 percent of gross domestic product and 58 percent of the country’s exports. The Olympic Games have had a positive impact on certain sectors, such as foods and beverages, and printing and publishing, but the infrastructure built in preparation for the Games and the publicity these will give the country will provide a further boost to the economy. The main sectors expected to benefit after 2004 are those of tourism, financial services and logistics. Unemployment, he acknowledged, remains a challenge at 9 percent, with higher rates among women and the young, despite declining in recent years. Kyriakopoulos noted Greece’s good relations with neighboring Balkan countries – including Turkey – where about 5,000 Greek firms have already invested, while the government is contributing more than 200 million euros in aid to them. Speaking at the same event, Delta Holdings’ managing director, Justin Jenk, painted a very positive picture of Greece and the Greeks. The managing director of supermarket chain AB Vassilopoulos, Costas Mahairas, opened his address by urging his audience to «invest in the Greek market within five minutes,» before giving a historical overview of the company to drive home his point. The Hellenic Center for Investment’s (ELKE) Yiannis Retsos argued that Greece’s political and economic stability, its proximity to the rapidly growing markets of southeastern Europe and relatively cheap and skilled work force are its most important advantages in attracting foreign investment, which is projected to rise by about 84 percent in the 2004-2005. The Olympic Games, which have ushered the country onto the world stage, and the impressive improvement in infrastructure, constitute a unique opportunity for the country to show its modern profile to the world, he added.