ECONOMY

In Brief

Full liberalization of national shopping hours ruled out The Development Ministry is not considering any further changes to the recently introduced national shop hours’ schedule, sources said yesterday after speculation caused by a remark by Minister Dimitris Sioufas. Addressing the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce yesterday he said, «Doing myself criticism, I could say I could have been bolder on the shopping hours issue.» He said a weekly schedule of 42-46 shopping hours could not really be called expanded but made it clear that he did not favor full liberalization. The government is doing its best to make the Greek market more attractive for investment, he added. A week ago, Athens Traders’ Association data showed just 10 percent of stores in Attica have extended their opening hours by an hour every day and two on Saturdays. The ministry and other market observers note, however, it is too early to assess the law’s effect. Credit Agricole keeps Emporiki options open PARIS (Reuters) – French bank Credit Agricole is keeping all options open regarding its stake in Greek bank Emporiki, a banking source said yesterday following a newspaper report that Agricole might sell the stake. «All options are still open,» the source told Reuters. Credit Agricole has an 11 percent stake in Emporiki, while the Greek government has about 43 percent. Greek newspaper Imerisia reported earlier yesterday that the state was considering selling a stake of more than 9 percent held by state portfolio management agency DEKA, while Credit Agricole could also sell its interest. But the source said Credit Agricole had not taken any decision on the matter. Credit Agricole declined to comment. Australian trade The Australian Embassy rebuffed complaints from local exporters yesterday who claimed that they are being unfairly discriminated against by Australian importers which turn their back on potential Greek business partners. Paul Tighe, Australia’s ambassador in Athens, admitted that this may have been the case in the past but not anymore. «There is no discrimination over imports from Greece. The EU is Australia’s main import source,» the ambassador said. In 2004, trade between the two countries resulted in a surplus for Greece of about 100 million euros. Inflation warning The European Central Bank would change its monetary policy stance if growth and inflation pick up, ECB Governing Council member Nicholas Garganas was quoted as saying yesterday. «With economic activity in Europe picking up and with inflation running at higher levels than we expected at the beginning of the year, we would be ready to change our stance,» Garganas said in an interview with news agency Bloomberg. (Reuters) Turkey’s exports Turkey’s exports will be around $72 billion for the whole of 2005, up from the government’s target of $71 billion, a government spokesman said yesterday. «It is understood that there will be higher exports this year than targeted,» Cemil Cicek told reporters.