The Covid-19 pandemic has served as a dramatic vindication of industrialists and others who have been calling in vain for measures to strengthen the manufacturing sector for more than a decade. The need to boost the role of manufacturing in the new production model for the country can only be satisfied by a series of conditions set by industrialists regarding the sector’s competitiveness.
Taking the reins of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) last Monday, new President Dimitris Papalexopoulos set as a primary target the increase in the share of manufacturing o the country’s gross domestic product from 10% to 15%. He associated this target with competitive energy costs in Greece, highlighting a key demand of the export-oriented industry, which continues to resist pressure internationally despite paying far more for its energy demands than its European competitors.
“The reduction of energy costs will have to be at the center of the policy followed in the coming period, so as to tackle the deep crisis Covid-19 creates in the country, along with the formation of a new production model,” said Mytilineos group Chief Executive Evangelos Mytilineos last week, addressing the Delphi Economic Forum.
Drawing from his experience from competition through subsidiary Aluminium of Greece, Mytilineos referred to Germany, which he said “supports through formal and informal ways its enterprises so that they enjoy the lowest energy rates.” Greece ought to do the same, he said, emphasizing that “a major part of the European package for the recovery of the Greek economy will have to go to the reduction of energy costs.”
Aluminium of Greece is a good example of a company that could benefit from energy cost cuts. It directly employs 1,500 people and indirectly another 4,500. It is also the sole aluminium producer in Greece and the only totally verticalized aluminium enterprise in Europe.
It is this verticalized model of operation as well as its constant initiatives for tackling costs that has made it so resistant to the pressure of the first quarter of the year in a very adverse international climate. Aluminium rates had been in decline since mid-2018 and reached new lows during the pandemic.