Measures for illicit trade

The Development Ministry is taking a series of measures, including a new checking squad, to tackle illicit street trading drastically. Speaking after a meeting with other competent bodies yesterday, Minister Dimitris Sioufas said checks will increase further «at every point in Attica and throughout the country,» while product entry will be monitored at customs stations on a 24-hour basis. «We want to limit and even completely eradicate the canker of illicit street trading,» said Sioufas, promising that his and other competent ministries will be very strict. He also revealed that the Development Ministry is studying «the creation of a single body responsible for all checks about market issues,» ahead of the abolition of the quotas from Asian countries in the New Year. Deputy Minister for Development Yiannis Papathanassiou said the police will assist in checks, and there will be regular meetings of all bodies to monitor progress. The meeting also included representatives from prefectural authorities, the police and the financial crimes squad (SDOE), so that coordination is enhanced and checks are more effective. Papathanassiou added that the law about street trading will be under public consultation within days. «Consumers benefit when buying products whose origin and quality they know, when the market functions properly, when the state has its legal revenues and when we do not have a few people operating at the expense of many,» he said. Dire warning The head of the Greek Textile Federation warned yesterday of a «catastrophe» in the industry after the scheduled global removal of textile import quotas on January 1. «For us the suppression of the quotas is a catastrophe,» Eleftherios Kourtalis, president of the Greek Textile Federation, told AFP. «We have asked the Greek government to pressure the European Union to control the quantity of Chinese imports.» He said the EU had to «create a mechanism to control Chinese imports, a measure used in the past when steel quotas were abolished.» «Greece has to work with Belgium, Spain, France and Italy to confront China,» he added. The Greek textile industry accounts for 15 percent of gross domestic product and provides employment for 28 percent of the work force at 10,000 sites, according to Kourtalis. «Textiles represent 23 percent of the country’s exports, of which 80 percent are on the EU market.» Kourtalis said that in the last five years nearly 30,000 jobs had been lost in Greece as enterprises in the ready-to-wear sector moved their operations to neighboring countries such as Albania, Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. «We fear the disappearance of an equivalent number of jobs in the next five years,» he added. The imminent end of textile quotas, as called for in a 1994 international agreement, has sparked fears in small textile-producing countries as well as in large textile-importing countries of a flood of Chinese-made products. China is already the world’s largest apparel exporter, controlling 28 percent of the world market. (Kathimerini, AFP)