South Africa woos Greek entrepreneurs

South African President Thabo Mbeki voiced an invitation to Greek entrepreneurs to invest in his country, speaking at a business event on economic relations between Greece and South Africa at the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA). Mbeki cited the agreement between South Africa and the EU on promoting their relationship as a very significant factor for attracting Greek investments. He also stressed that the macroeconomic stability and the significant infrastructure development in South Africa guarantee secure and attractive investments. EBEA President Drakoulis Fountoukakos underscored the importance of the EU-South Africa agreement, noting that it encourages the development and liberalization of commercial transactions, services and capital between the two sides. The agreement covers about 90 percent of current bilateral transactions. Due to the restructuring of the South African economy, the EU will open its markets faster and more broadly than will South Africa. The EU will open up about 95 percent of imports from there within 10 years, while South Africa will reach 86 percent within 12 years. In this context, Fountoukakos said that Greece and Greek companies could seek opportunities to develop business cooperation in the South African market, having been the 12th-largest foreign investor in that country in the 1999-2002 period. Greek investments came up to $250 million, creating 100,000 jobs. South African gross domestic product is close to that of Sweden’s, and is three times that of the Czech Republic. Its budget deficit is at 2.3 percent, its inflation stands at 4 percent while its trade balance is positive. Greece runs a strong deficit in trade with South Africa, exporting around $15 million each there but importing some $45 million worth of products including steel products, metal sheets, paper, cotton and shoes.

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