OPINION

Growth in the sectors that matter

The Greek economy is transforming fast. Within the context of an ever-changing globalized world, new sectors are emerging strongly, while traditional ones are being sidelined or simply subside. An ICAP survey, published in today’s Kathimerini English Edition, shows that the motors of Greek economic growth are sectors and businesses that are able to compete against market rivals on the international stage. One of these is Greece’s shipping industry, which has proved its superiority within the context of fierce international competition. Another is the telecommunications sector, where mammoth foreign investment in mobile systems has given our country a technological advantage. The banking system, now liberated from the state’s suffocating embrace, is now embarking upon an unprecedented Balkan expansion. And, finally, tourism is using the Olympic legacy as a springboard to attract new visitors from abroad. The same study shows that Greece’s industrial sector and particularly that of agriculture are in decline. The bad news is not unrelated to the patron-client relationships that have for decades been nourished by Greece’s mainstream political parties, which paid little heed to competitiveness for the sake of counterproductive subsidies that harmed the sectors in the long term. The findings of the ICAP survey lead to the conclusion that the development of the Greek economy is dependent on the further growth of the sectors that are based on knowledge. It is this growth in knowledge that makes a country competitive in the world economy. The government must lift any remaining obstacles by deregulating all markets, including the capital and labor markets. However, given that a considerable part of the population still works in the traditional sectors of the economy, such as industry and agriculture, the state also has to hammer out a transparent and at the same time effective policy to enhance their competitiveness. The future of our economy lies in new technologies, shipping, tourism and financial services. But Greece will also have to depend on traditional sectors under the condition that they cease to be dependent on the state and instead become competitive according to international standards.