Michael N. Stassinopoulos: Manufacturing in the new era
The COVID-19 crisis has had unprecedented, rapid knock-on effects on the global economy, the exact extent of which cannot be determined as long as uncertainty remains on the evolution of the pandemic.
The new virus and the initial measures taken in order to reduce its spread have had an effect on every aspect of economic activity and created conditions that could almost be likened to the almost catastrophic impact of wars on countries’ economies.
The Greek economy will undoubtedly suffer a disproportionately great blow from the pandemic crisis, mainly due to its high dependence on tourism and all activities related to it. If we also take into account other long-term problems, such as the lower productivity levels associated with the lack of investment in modern technological and mechanical equipment, as well as the country’s low ranking in competitiveness and innovation indicators, it becomes evident that the challenge ahead of us is much greater than the mitigation of the crisis negative effects on jobs and businesses. The time has come for all of us to address Greece’s so called economic “underlying diseases,” a task which entails the full reconsideration of the mix of economic activities that we rely on, so that the economy becomes stronger, more compatible with modern trends, as well as more resilient to potential external shocks. The crisis proved to be a strong reminder for even Europe’s strong economies not only of the importance of manufacturing and producing goods that can be traded on the global markets, but also on how imperative the basic self-sufficiency of a country really is, without succumbing to any nationalistic ‘protectionist’ arguments. It also reminded us that each and every country’s growth model has its own specific “risk profile”, which determines its resilience and weaknesses in any potential future shock.
It is therefore, of critical importance for a country’s growth strategy to include this factor, given the specific characteristics of each sector of the economy so that there is sufficient differentiation and balance. In the case of manufacturing, suffice it to say that each sector possesses its own ”growth and risk profile”: for example that of the pharmaceutical industry differs from the manufacturing of building or packaging materials, the automotive supply chain, textiles or even luxury products. Manufacturing is actually the most multidimensional sector of any economy, rendering its development more secure and safe.
In its last quarterly report on the Greek economy, the IOBE foundation underlined that, in addition to tourism, there is an inert need for a second strong pillar in the economy, one which focuses on manufacturing, based on innovation and investments and thus further contributing in exports of goods.
Although the Greek economy has some of the lowest manufacturing rates in Europe, it has strong multiplier effects contributing both directly and indirectly 1/3 of Greece’s GDP as well as 1/3 of employment. In addition, 36% of the country’s R&D stems from manufacturing.
What all of this goes to show is that Greek manufacturing, with its highly qualified, highly trained human resources pool, has all the prerequisites to meet today’s challenges and contribute to the faster restart of Greece’s economy, based on more solid foundations in line with Europe’s objectives in regards to both environmental protection and combating climate change.
THE COMPANY AT A GLANCE
“Viohalco is actively involved in the production of aluminium, copper, cable, steel and steel pipes with production facilities located in 8 countries and exports to over 100 countries. Viohalco places a strong focus on research and development, as well as sustainable development, corporate social responsibility, and continuously training and developing its human resources.”