Alarm bells as current account deficit grows 38 pct; exports lag

On the day OPE, the state’s Export Promotion Organization, unveiled a brand-new logo («Greece – in every market in the world») and a revamped website, data by the Bank of Greece showed there is a lot to do to close the yawning trade and current account deficits. The current account gap increased by 38 percent to 6 billion euros in the first five months of 2005 compared to 4.3 billion during the same period in 2004, central bank data show. A good deal of the difference is due to the cost of oil imports, which jumped to 3.03 billion euros from 2.3 billion in 2004. Imports were worth more than three times exports (16.6 billion to 5.4 billion) showing the great problem of competitiveness the Greek economy faces. Other bad news included 16.5 percent in interest payments on Greece’s big debt – at 109.5 percent of GDP the highest in the EU – and a net outflow of foreign capital to the tune of 66.4 million euros, compared to an inflow of 439 million in 2004. On the plus side, income from tourism increased 6.5 percent and inflows from shipping rose to 5.8 billion euros from 5.3 billion in 2004. OPE officials said they counted on a large-scale marketing campaign, as well as sending delegations of businesspeople abroad (eight in 2005 and 15 in 2006).

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