ECONOMY

In Brief

Chinese-Greek contacts and trade set to increase Greece would like to see a reduction in its huge trade deficit with China, Prime Minister Costas Simitis told Chinese businessmen in Shanghai before concluding his weeklong visit to the country yesterday. Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos said there was very strong interest among Greek businessmen to expand business with China and, for this reason, the Foreign Ministry is planning to organize periodic trade missions. Meanwhile, Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos, Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, Loverdos and other junior ministers have been invited to attend an event titled «Athens-Beijing Business Meeting,» organized by the Chinese Embassy and the Hellenic-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the Athinais conference center in Votanikos on June 11. Also invited to attend are members of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games organizing committee, official Chinese foreign trade agencies and Chinese businessmen. ELKE event focuses on Balkan investment opportunities The total foreign capital invested in Greece amounted to $16.5 billion in 1998 and since then $700-800 million has been invested annually, the Hellenic Center for Investment’s (ELKE) General Director Haris Isaias told a conference in Thessaloniki yesterday. Of this sum, 40 percent is channeled through ELKE. Germany is the largest source of such investment, followed by the USA, France, the UK and Cyprus. The ELKE event, co-sponsored by the OECD, focused on the legal framework for investment and opportunities in the Balkans, and representatives from Bulgaria, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Yugoslavia and Cyprus presented their countries’ relevant data. Isaias noted a recent Japanese interest in investing in the Balkans through Greece, mainly in the sectors of air conditioning, mechanical engineering and financial services. ELKE has scheduled similar events in Veria and Kozani on June 15 and 16, respectively. Satellite technology Space Hellas is to participate in the development of third-generation satellite services by a consortium comprising 10 organizations from seven different countries, as part of the Mobile Digital Broadcasting Satellite (MoDis) project. The scheme, which is budgeted at 6.3 million euros and is to last 30 months, is subsidized by the European Commission in the framework of the Information Society Technologies (IST) program. The consortium includes Daimler Chrysler, Agilent Technologies, Monaco Telecom, TV Files, Udcast, Alcatel, Ercom, Bell Space and the University of Surrey. NBG in Yugoslavia National Bank of Greece (NBG) will shortly inaugurate two new branches in the Serbian city of Nis and the Zemoun district of Belgrade, adding to one in the center of the capital opened in January. NBG plans to expand its network in Yugoslavia to at least 15 branches. Its chairman, Theodoros Karatzas, has said management targets a 30-percent contribution to the group’s profitability from operations abroad, particularly in SE Europe. To date, the government has said it plans to hold a golden share in Hellenic Exchange Holdings and 35-percent stakes in electricity utility PPC, telecoms operator OTE and water company EYDAP. The State currently owns controlling shares in the three companies, although there are plans to reduce its stakes by the end of the year. Other companies expected to remain under government control include gas enterprise DEPA and oil refiner Hellenic Petroleum.