The European Union-subsidized National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) investment program, which is to run for the period 2007-2013, can potentially provide the catalyst for remedying Greece’s perennial low competitiveness and boosting the outward-looking approach of Greek businesses, the Association of Exporters of Northern Greece (SEVE) said in a report yesterday. SEVE said the success of the NSRF required full cooperation between the private and public sectors. It pointed out that Greek exports were growing at a much slower pace than imports, which were three times as large in value, causing the country’s trade deficit to continuously swell. The gap was a good reflection of the country’s ailing competitiveness and lack of an outward-looking approach, it added. For these reasons, SEVE proposes five programs for making NSRF a success and considers that those relating to competitiveness, entrepreneurship and agricultural development are particularly crucial. «Planning which provides for a concentration of NSRF responsibilities in Athens makes us guarded about the benefits which can accrue for the regions,» SEVE President Vassilis Thomaidis told a presentation. He said SEVE proposed that the planning and implementation of a broad export strategy should be integrated into the overall program for bolstering the competitiveness of the Greek economy, along with efforts to upgrade the concepts of quality and standardization as well as the certification of Greek export agencies. In addition, efforts to instill a more outward-looking approach among Greek enterprises should be differentiated on a regional basis, and the networks for supporting Greek firms abroad should be strengthened.