ECONOMY

Alogoskoufis leads Greek team in Tokyo

TOKYO – Greece expects to forge closer economic ties with Japan following high-level talks during a five-day visit by a ministerial and business delegation, which coincides tomorrow with the «Day of Greece» at the 2005 World Exposition in Aichi. Initial talks between the Japanese delegation and Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis and his deputy, Petros Doukas, appear to have gone well. Japanese banks and institutional investors are reportedly interested in Greek government bonds. Nomura Securities in particular is expected to absorb a special 2-billion-euro 10-year bond issue. Speaking at a conference attended by about 100 representatives of major Japanese firms, Alogoskoufis laid out the advantages Greece offers to firms wishing to tap the broader Balkan market, as well as the latest favorable investment incentives and tax measures introduced for investors. He also presented the government’s privatization program, which includes gaming firm OPAP and Athens International Airport, as well as plans to bolster the tourism industry. Alogoskoufis and Japanese counterpart Sadakazu Tanigaki agreed to prepare an agreement on avoiding the double taxation which affects Greek and Japanese firms. They also discussed the prospect of direct Athens-Tokyo flights. Senior Greek bank and stock market officials also briefed Japanese institutional investors. A Japanese stock market delegation is expected in Athens in September. Olympic Properties Chairman Christos Hadziemmanuil called on Japanese investors to take part in the upcoming tenders for leasing the installations of the 2004 Athens Olympics, which initially will include the canoe/kayak and badminton installations and the International Broadcasting Center. He stressed that the tenders will do away with red tape procedures as construction licenses will be issued in 60 days and operating licenses in 90 days. The Day of Greece at the 2005 World Expo will feature an array of cultural events, including music concerts by Greek popular singers Dionysios Savvopoulos, Eleftheria Arvanitaki and Yiannis Kotsiras, as well as a show by the dance-theater group Roes, and Greek traditional dances. The design of the Greek Pavilion in the Aichi EXPO is inspired by the ancient Greek concept of harmony of the human mind, body and spirit and the beauty of the natural environment.