ECONOMY

In Brief

Greece and Tunisia agree to bolster bilateral ties The foreign ministers of Greece and Tunisia agreed yesterday to boost bilateral ties between their countries, ahead of an accord on avoiding double taxation. «We examined the possibilities of increasing our bilateral cooperation and proceeding to regular high-level exchanges,» Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said after talks in Athens with her Tunisian counterpart Abdelwalab Abdallah. She announced that an accord would be signed in Tunis within two weeks on a double taxation deal. Greece favors a «more substantial» relationship between Tunisia and the European Union within the framework of European-Mediterranean cooperation, the Greek minister added. For his part, Abdallah appealed to Greek tourists to visit Tunisia, just «one hour and 50 minutes by airplane» from Athens. «Tunisia is not a competitor destination to Greece,» he said. (AFP) Iceland’s Novator lowers Forthnet stake to 10.2 pct Icelandic fund Novator, controlled by billionaire Bjorgolfur Thor Bjorgolfsson, halved its stake in Greece’s second-largest Internet service provider Forthnet, the Greek company said in a stock exchange filing. Novator said it sold the roughly 10.8 percent stake in Forthnet in a private placement last week. Before the sale, Novator was the second-largest holder of shares in Forthnet with about 21 percent. Earlier this year, Novator lowered its stake from about 39 percent. Crete-based Forthnet competes with the Greece’s largest telecoms provider OTE and other operators like Public Power Corp’s Tellas in fixed-line telephony. (Reuters) Retail sales Retail sales in Greece grew 3.9 percent year-on-year by volume in February, slowing from a 5.9 percent rise in January, data by the National Statistics Service (NSS) showed. Retail sales by revenues grew 7.7 percent year-on-year in February, after a 10.2 percent rise in the previous month. «The rate for February, as in January, is very satisfactory. This indicates private consumption will stay at relatively high levels for the first three months of the year,» said Dimitris Maroulis at Alpha Bank. «This is good for the Greek economy as it shows GDP growth is maintaining the expansion pace.» (Reuters) Athens-Beijing flights Air China is starting a direct service between Athens and Beijing from September 1, flying twice a week, the new director general of Athens International Airport, Yiannis Paraschis, announced yesterday upon assuming his position. Albanian economy Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports) has announced the addition of «The 2006 Albania Economic and Product Market Databook» to their offering. This study covers the outlook of products in Albania. Estimates are given for latent demand, or potential industry earnings.