ECONOMY

Gov’t unveils a seven-step plan to boost exports

As global trade demand slumps, the Economy and Finance Ministry has unveiled plans aimed at boosting the country’s export operations in a move dismissed by experts as being low-cost measures that will have a limited impact. Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou said a seven-step plan will target better promotion of Greek products abroad and improved monitoring of markets. The cost of the measures has been estimated at about 30 million euros. «Even though initial signs cannot lead to a general conclusion about the expected course of exports in 2009, there is no doubt we will encounter very difficult conditions in foreign markets,» he said. Steps include running a one-off 10-million-euro program for one year aimed at helping exporters penetrate foreign markets and a second scheme which increases subsidies granted to businesses for taking part in trade exhibitions abroad. Others measures involve setting up a committee to better monitor international developments affecting exporters and improving coordination between relevant government agencies. Greek exports rose at an annual pace of 1 percent last year, after leaping 39 percent in the previous 12-month period. Sales of products abroad were largely supported by strong demand from neighboring trade partners, such as Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey. However, provisional data from the National Statistics Service (NSS) show that Greek exports plummeted in January by 22 percent year-on-year as the crisis hits the region harder. «Even if more drastic measures were taken (by the government) the impact would be limited given the current climate,» National Bank economist Nikos Magginas told Kathimerini English Edition. Global trade volume this year is expected to shrink by 2.8 percent, the Economy Ministry said, citing International Monetary Fund figures. [email protected]