Export promotion plan unveiled

Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis yesterday promised more dynamic promotion of Greek products abroad in order to lift exports from their present dismal levels. Alogoskoufis yesterday presented an 11-point plan, based on the state body Export Promotion Organization (OPE) becoming more active. The plan includes a survey that will determine priority markets, business delegations abroad, a world congress on the Mediterranean diet and the participation of Greek enterprises in international fairs. Alogoskoufis presented data showing that the value of exports had fallen from 10 percent of Greece’s GDP in 2000 to 7.4 percent in 2004. By comparison, the value of Belgium’s exports is equal to 95 percent of its GDP, South Korea’s 66 percent and Germany’s 40 percent. Alogoskoufis attributed the low level of exports to the economy’s low competitiveness level, years of disincentives to investment and the lack of an overall strategic plan. In order for exports to recover, companies must show a greater desire to invest, innovate and market their products and services abroad. Greece has many small and medium-sized enterprises which cannot, by themselves, devise and implement promotion campaigns abroad. However, if they could pool their efforts, they will succeed, the minister said, adding that OPE, by its nature, is the natural choice to take up that role. Specifically, the export promotion measures promoted by Alogoskoufis are: – OPE will cover up to 40 percent of an enterprise’s cost of participating in fairs, business delegations and other promotion activities abroad. The goal is to double the number of exporting companies within the next 12 months. – A market survey will be conducted this year to determine the most appropriate markets abroad. – More intensive promotion of traditional Greek products is to take place, with the cooperation of the ministries of Development and Agriculture. A farm products bureau will be created in OPE. – A program is to promote the export of hi-technology products and learning systems. OPE will also create a special bureau for hi-technology firms. The goal is to create 50 more exporting firms in the sector this year. – A special program, worth 6 million euros, will promote Greek olive oil in the USA, Canada and Australia. This is a collaboration between OPE and SEVITEL, the olive oil exporters’ organization, with each organization contributing 50 percent of the budget. – A total of 45 product-promotion fairs are to be staged abroad this year, up from 25 in 2004. A total of 600 enterprises are expected to take part. For 2006, 51 fairs have been planned, with an estimated 900 companies taking part. – Eight business delegations will travel this year to the US, Canada, United Arab Emirates, Japan, China, Poland, Russia and Egypt. – A world congress on the Mediterranean diet will take place from September 29 to October 2. The congress will target six large markets. – The National Council on Exports will be upgraded and play a crucial role in planning export policy. The council will create a special center to coordinate the trips of business delegations abroad. – Better use will be made of EU funds to help Greek enterprises innovate and market their products and services. – OPE and the Economy Ministry will jointly stage a big congress in the first half of 2006, to which 1,000 product distributors from large markets abroad are to be invited. Three separate events will take place in Athens (foods and beverages, industrial products, education, services), Thessaloniki (construction materials and technology) and Iraklion (foods and beverages, hotel equipment and services).

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