Numerous government and other senior officials from Eastern European and Balkan countries are to address the Thessaloniki International Fair’s (TIF) special three-day business conference, which opens tomorrow. Helexpo, the joint organizers of the conference titled «New Business Roads,» aims at establishing it as «an annual business and economic gathering of state agencies, organizations and enterprises,» Helexpo President Aristotelis Thomopoulos told a press briefing in the city yesterday. The conference will also be addressed by Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis tomorrow and Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Thursday. Thomopoulos said that after the conference sessions each afternoon, participants – hailing from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovakia, Poland, Armenia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia-Montenegro, Turkey and Bulgaria – will tour the installations of the 70th TIF and take part in the program of prearranged business meetings, Expopartenariat. They will also participate in the European BOSS program, promoted by the Association of Industries of Northern Greece (SVVE), which envisages more than 1,000 individual meetings among businesspeople. The event is also seen attracting as observers representatives of many other countries which are participating in the TIF this year. External Trade The Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (OPE), the other joint organizer of New Business Roads, aims at doubling the number of the country’s exporting businesses by the end of next year, its general manager, Anastasia Garyfallou, told the press briefing. She said the plan is especially targeting 13 countries as export markets, namely Germany, France, the UK, Poland, Russia, Turkey, the USA, Canada, Australia, China, India, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. Garyfallou said twice as many Greek enterprises are participating in 50 percent more international expositions this year as last year. «The policy now being followed is bearing fruit, as shown by the almost 7.5 percent rise in Greek exports in the first half of 2005,» she said. In the meantime, OPE is preparing a World Gastronomy Conference in Athens at the end of March 2006, and an introductory event will be held in Thessaloniki on September 30 and October 1. The conference is targeting the relaunching of Greek products in foreign markets, the promotion of their recognizability as part of the world-renowned Mediterranean diet and the establishment of new distribution channels. The campaign initially includes roadshows in the main Greek cities and possibly some resorts. Garyfallou said the government is trying to coordinate a more outward-looking attitude among the country’s export-related agencies, and OPE is planning to spend about 15 million euros on promoting specific categories and individual products by 2007.