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Newsletter July 2010


Greece at Shanghai’s EXPO 2010

Greece is anticipating greater cooperation with China in the areas of tourism and shipping and hopes to attract Chinese investment to Greece, Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli said on Saturday, June 19, at a press conference in Shanghai during Greek Day at China’s EXPO 2010. According to the Minister, her contacts with Chinese officials and business people in the city demonstrated potential for further business activity between the two countries in these areas. Mrs. Katseli presented the e-book "Invest in Greece" that provides information for potential investors on all the securitisation programmes planned by the Greek government in an upcoming privatisation drive.

Speaking at the Greek Pavilion at the Shanghai EXPO earlier the same day, China Ocean Shipping (COSCO) CEO and President Capt. Wei Jiafu stressed that China gave a vote of confidence to the Greek government's efforts to emerge from the crisis, adding that other Chinese companies have shown interest in investing in Greece.

Minister Katseli also visited the Shanghai stock market as part of the effort to support and promote Greek business. During an event at the Greek Embassy, she noted that Greece was hoping to promote cooperation with China in areas such as trade, by promoting products and services that could be sold to Chinese markets, by attracting investments from China in the tourism and shipping sectors, and in cultural exchanges. Other areas of possible cooperation include logistics, technology, construction, and transport.

June 21, 2010

China, Shanghai - Invest in Greece at WORLD EXPO 2010
Invest in Greece Agency, represented by its President Dr. Paraskevi Boufounou participated in a Ministerial-led mission to Shanghai, on June 18 - June 21, 2010. Mrs. Louka Katseli, Minister of Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping led the Mission which is in the framework of WORLD EXPO 2010. Dr. Boufounou held business meetings and participated in all concurrent events of the WORLD EXPO, promoting Greece as an investment destination to the vitally important Chinese market. These meetings resulted in further interest in Greece and follow up meetings are scheduled for the fall. 

June 23, 2010

Historic Greece-Turkey Meeting
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan expressed their will to take important steps towards the improvement of Greek-Turkish relations, as the Turkish leader wrapped up an official visit to Athens on May 15. This was sealed with the opening session of the Greece-Turkey High Level Cooperation Council.

Twenty-one cooperation agreements in fields as diverse as technology and tourism were signed during the Turkey-Greece High Level Cooperation Council.

Ministers signed agreements boosting trade, investments and shipping and the two countries will hereby extend their cooperation in projects concerning infrastructure works and transnational transport networks.

Relations between the two countries in the field of immigration will be governed by a bilateral agreement which provides for readmission of illegal immigrant flows to Turkey and cooperation in the fight against organized crime, trafficking and civil protection.

Both sides agreed to improve tourism cooperation, aiming at increasing their market share in countries with economic potential such as China, as well as raising global awareness on matters of cultural heritage protection.

Special attention was given to education and synergies concerning research. Environment protection and joint ventures in energy projects including renewable energy sources and the existing Turkey- Greece-Italy gas pipeline were also sealed with respective deals.

In terms of strengthening bilateral ties, a Joint Political Declaration on the establishment of the High Level Cooperation Council as well as a Protocol on regular political consultations between the two countries’ foreign ministries were signed.

May 17, 2010
Greek News Agenda
Secretariat General of Communication

Pipeline MOUs Signed
An important step regarding the implementation of the Turkey-Greece-Italy natural gas pipeline was taken on with the signing on June 17 of a Memorandum of Understanding by the three countries' natural gas companies participating in the project, as well as the joint statement by the three ministries reconfirming the governments' decision for the pipeline's implementation.

In parallel, the possibility remains open to the participation of the Turkish natural gas company in the Greek-Italian undersea pipeline, as well as the participation of the Greek and the Italian company in investments for upgrading the Turkish network.

The memorandum was signed in Ankara by Italy's Edison, DEPA and Turkey's BOTAS and sets the framework for the passing through Turkey of the natural gas destined for the pipeline.

June 18, 2010

Invest in Greece signs MOU with the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce
Invest in Greece Agency, represented by its CEO, Mr. Christos Alexakis, signed an MOU with the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, which was represented by its President, Mr. Yanos Gramatidis.

Given that the United States ranks first among capital exporting countries (data for 2008, UNCTAD, World Investment Report 2009), the MOU is a strategic initiative that is expected to offer multiple benefits to Greece and send a positive message to the American business community. With this agreement Invest in Greece Agency makes a decisive step towards strengthening Greece’s outward orientation and developing the Greek economy.

The MOU reinforces and formalises the cooperation and joint participation of the two organisations in a variety of activities, including the convening of sectoral business missions and the participation of Greek companies at trade exhibitions, promoting Greek products and services in the large American market. The exchange of information regarding economic and technological developments is also enhanced.

June 28, 2010

Invest in Greece Promotes Investment Projects of Athens Exchange S.A. Listed Companies
Invest in Greece Agency, the national agency under the responsibility of the Ministry of Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping that promotes and attracts investments in Greece, launched another significant initiative, with the Union of Listed Companies in Athens Exchange, aiming to improve the economic climate of Greece.

The Head of Invest in Greece Agency, Mr. Christos Alexakis, detailed a joint action of the Union of Listed Companies and Invest in Greece Agency. The two organisations will, in cooperation, identify investment projects in the pipeline that have been put on hold due to adverse economic conditions. Invest in Greece Agency will now include these projects in its electronic directory (eΒook) and, in collaboration with the listed companies, will promote the projects in road shows to countries that have expressed an interest in Greece, including Qatar, Libya, and China.

Listed companies have already expressed their satisfaction regarding the synergy between Invest in Greece Agency and the Union of Listed Companies and it is expected they will soon submit their investment projects for inclusion in the Invest in Greece eBook.

July 1, 2010

Greece’s Investment and Development Prospects
Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis underlined that during periods of economic crisis, economic diplomacy is called to play a supplementary and developmental role through the adoption of well-targeted action.

In an interview with ANA-MPA, he referred to a recent meeting with Saudi Arabian businessmen on the occasion of a business forum in Athens, where there was increased investment interest expressed by the Arab world.

Mr. Kouvelis pointed out that this interest focused on infrastructure, construction, environment and energy and added that in the immediate future, Greece intends to attract investments worth billions of dollars.

He cited a 3.5-billion-dollar energy investment agreement for the harbour of Astakos in western Greece signed between Athens and Qatar, stressing that it is a “green technology” investment that will produce roughly 1,500 jobs.

The logistics centre in Thriasio was described by Mr. Kouvelis as a very important project that will complete the work done in the port of Piraeus.

He underlined the need for a dynamic presence by Greece through the utilisation of every opportunity available for regional cooperation. Referring to Greece’s BSEC (Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization) Presidency until the end of 2010, he stressed that the target is to achieve a common regional perspective.

As regards his recent visit to Moscow and Sochi, host city of the 2014 Winter Olympics, he said that the Greek side expressed strong interest in investment in the sectors of construction, tourism and cruise ship tourism, underlining the mutual interest in cooperation for the preparation of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Referring to his meeting with European Investment Bank (EIB) Vice-President Plutarchos Sakellaris, he said they discussed cooperation with Greece in the sectors of climate change, green development and energy. He also outlined the main goals of the Greek economic diplomacy in the immediate future with an emphasis on the regions of the Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean.

Mr. Kouvelis also stressed that there was a setback in the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline project following the statements made by the Bulgarian premier adding, however, that Greece remains firm in its intention to have the relevant plans materialised.

Regarding the meeting held recently in Athens with the Azeri energy and industry minister, Minister Kouvelis said that the strong interest of the Azeri government in the promotion of bilateral cooperation on energy issues was confirmed, while both sides underlined the need to accelerate the construction of the ITGI pipeline (Turkey, Greece, Italy). He said that the meeting will serve as a basis for the preparation of the Joint Inter-ministerial Committee scheduled to meet in Baku within the next few months.

July 8, 2010

Costa Navarino—A New Integrated Resort in the Peloponnese
Costa Navarino, a new integrated tourism destination in Messinia, began operations in May 2010 with the opening of its first hotel  ‘The Romanos, A Luxury Collection Resort.’  The Romanos is part of Navarino Dunes, the first site of Costa Navarino and is situated on a coastal area of 1,300 acres. Navarino Dunes features a 1-kilometre sandy beach amidst lush olive groves. Anazoe Spa has also opened in Navarino Dunes. The 4,000 m2 spa includes unique holistic therapies based on the combination of the ancient therapeutic expertise and modern cosmetology. On July 1, 2010, a second 5-star property, the Westin Resort, opens. Starwood Hotels & Resorts operates both 5-star luxury hotels.

The two resorts offer extensive facilities and activities, including The Dunes Course, the first signature 18-hole golf course in Greece, the House of Events conference centre, and a wide range of gourmet experiences, sport and cultural facilities, outdoors activities, branded stores and well-designed children and youth centres.

New Regional Agricultural Initiative
Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Katerina Batzeli on May 26 signed a protocol of cooperation according to which an "Adriatic-Ionian network for agricultural development" will be created, during a meeting of agriculture ministers of member-countries of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative.

The memorandum provides for exchanges of experiences, implementation of cooperation plans and the promotion of a quality identity of the region's agricultural products, and emphasis will also be placed on safeguarding the agricultural traditions, the wider cultural heritage of the region, and the containment of prices.

May 28, 2010

Prime Minister: Attracting Foreign Investment
In an effort to attract foreign investment, Prime Minister George Papandreou met on May 17 with businesspeople of Greek origin living abroad.

Mr. Papandreou drew attention to the government's goal to promote a new growth model for the country, a model of Green Growth, by taking full advantage of the country’s potential and by increasing transparency and deceasing red tape.

Following the meeting, the Prime Minister said, “we had the honour of meeting with personalities of the Diaspora, who committed themselves, with love for and dedication to Greece, to mobilise the Diaspora everywhere for investments and knowhow so that Greece could embark on a different path."

Referring to Greece's comparative advantages, the Prime Minister included the agricultural sector, the entire food sector in association with tourism, renewable energy sources, with the aim of Greece generating 20% of energy needs from RES by 2020, as well as high technology, informatics, finance, banking, communications and transport.

May 18, 2010
Greek News Agenda

COSCO in Greece
President and CEO of China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company (COSCO) Captain Wei Jiafu, accompanied by a group of 20 Chinese executives,visited Athens for a series of meetings with the country’s political leadership and representatives of its business community.

The prospects of a wide range of Chinese investments in Greece’s infrastructure were the focus of discussions by the delegation.

Captain Wei was received by President of Greece Karolos Papoulias and subsequently met with Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli and the Piraeus Port Authority CEO George Anomeritis.

He also met with Prime Minister George Papandreou.

"We discussed the development of Piraeus into a global service centre," Minister Katseli said after meeting with Captain Wei.

"The harbour is more than piers. This is about customer service, logistics, a trade hub, and COSCO is very interested in these services," she added.

On his part, Mr. Wei said that Cosco’s three partners in the CKYH Alliance will make Piraeus port their main entry point into Europe for cargo from Asia.

"Piraeus will be our primary port, not only for COSCO, but also for the alliance," said Mr. Wei, adding that the move will boost container traffic at the port, with the alliance’s aim to reach 800,000 containers this year.  

May 20, 2010
Greek News Agenda

Prime Minister in Beirut
Prime Minister George Papandreou travelled to Beirut on an official visit May 19-20 where he met with his Lebanese counterpart Saad Harriri and addressed the 18th Arab Business Forum.

On the topic of Arab nations investing in Greece, Mr. Papandreou said "we invite you all to join us, whether that is visiting Greece, investing in the country directly, or cooperating with us on projects which will secure a better future for the sake of all our countries."

Mr. Papandreou suggested the establishment of a Euro-Mediterranean Forum, which would seek cooperation at an economic and social development level, the benefits of which could spill over beyond the boundaries of the Mediterranean region.

May 21, 2010
Greek News Agenda

Greece Moves up 6 Places in Global Competitiveness Report

Greece moved up six places in this year’s global competitiveness list of the Institute for Management Development (IMD). Presenting the annual report of IMD, Nikolaos Pentzos, president of the Federation of Northern Greece Industries, said Greece ranked 46th among 58 countries (up from 52nd in 2009), recording improvement in three sectors: economic efficiency, business efficiency and infrastructure. Greece lost one place in government efficiency.

Country rankings are the result of a combination of macroeconomic data (2/3) and opinion surveys (1/3). Mr. Pentzos said efforts to cut the public sector and establish a climate of transparency also contributed to the country’s improved ranking.

May 18, 2010

Greece and Turkey Sign 21 Agreements During PM Erdogan Visit
Greece and Turkey signed a raft of 21 agreements, memorandums and declarations of bilateral cooperation during the first day of a visit by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Athens on Friday, May 14, sealing the inaugural meeting of the Greece-Turkey High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council. Among these was the founding declaration for the Council itself, which was signed by Mr. Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou.

The deals struck by the 17 Greek and Turkish ministers that participated in the Council concerned a range of issues, from foreign policy and economic cooperation to organising joint package holidays to third countries and tributes to Greek and Turkish cinema. They included:

On foreign relations, signed by Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu:
1) A joint Political Declaration on creating the High-Level Cooperation Council
2) A Protocol for regular political consultation between the Greek and Turkish foreign ministries
3) An Agreement on paid employment by dependent members of diplomatic missions
4) A Joint Declaration lifting restrictions at the Kastanies-Pazarkule border crossing.

On economic and trade issues, signed by Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli and Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, as well as Minister Katseli with Turkish Minister of State Mehmet Zafer Caglayan:
1) A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on promoting cooperation in investment issues between Invest in Greece and Turkey's investment promotion body ISPAT.
2) A Joint Declaration on promoting economic and business cooperation.

On environmental issues, signed by Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili with Turkish Environment and Forestry Minister Veysel Eroglu:
1) A Joint Declaration of Cooperation on protecting forests
2) A MoU on forest protection issues

On energy and natural resources management issues, signed by Minister Birbili and Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yildiz:
1) A MoU on cooperation in the energy sector

On education, research and technology, signed by Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou and Turkish Minister of State Egemen Bagis, as well as Ms. Diamantopoulou and Turkey's National Education Minister Nimet Cubukcu:
1) A MoU between the two ministries and the officials in charge of cooperation on science and technology issues at the Greek ministry and Turkey's Scientific and Technological Research Council (TUBITAK).
2) A Joint Declaration on cooperation between Greece and Turkey in the education sector

On transport, information technology and communications, signed by Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas and Turkey's Transport Minister Binali Yildirim:
1) A Memorandum of Intent (MOI) for the development of railway and combined transport between Greece and Turkey
2) A Joint Declaration in the areas of IT, Communications and Postal Services
3) A Joint Declaration on developing cooperation in the road transport sector

On internal affairs and civil protection, signed by Citizens' Protection Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis and Turkish Interior Minister Besir Atalay:
1) A Joint Declaration on issues of illegal migration, asylum, organised crime, drug trafficking and protection of citizens
2) A Joint Declaration on the abolition of the visa requirement for holders of Turkish special passports

On culture and tourism cooperation, signed by Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos and his Turkish counterpart Ertugrul Gunay:
1) A Joint Declaration on cooperation in culture
2) A Joint Declaration on cooperation in tourism

In addition to the agreements signed by ministers, a number of agreements were signed by Greek and Turkish organisations and agencies.
They included cooperation protocol signed by the semi-official state news agencies of the two countries, the ANA-MPA and Turkey's Anadolu, signed by ANA-MPA Managing Director Nikolas Voulelis and Anadolu Chairman Hilmi Bengi, an MoU between the Hellenic Organisation for Standardisation (ELOT) and the Turkish Standards Institution (TSE) and an MoU between the Hellenic Bank Association and the Banks Association of Turkey.

June 18, 2010

Prime Minister Papandreou Addresses Greek-Turkish Business Forum

Prime Minister George Papandreou, speaking to Greek and Turkish businessmen at the Greek-Turkish Business Forum in Athens on May 14, said that the Greek government was making every effort to achieve the lifting of obstacles and to facilitate business activities in Greece.

"You are going much further ahead than politics. You are paving paths and these paths contribute to the cultivation of the political climate, so that we can tackle the thorns in relations," the Prime Minister stressed.

Mr. Papandreou said that during the 2001-2008 period exchanges between Greece and Turkey exceeded 3.3 billion dollars, but 2009 was a difficult year.

"However, your presence here is an ominous fact for even greater development in the entire region. There are great possibilities for the further development of activities in the eastern Mediterranean, the Black Sea and despite the economic monetary challenge we shall proceed more dynamically. This appears from the figures," the Prime Minister underlined.

Mr. Papandreou also noted that Greece ranks among the top investors in Turkey and about 76 Greek businesses are already active in the country that have created 56 subsidiaries and many of them are listed in the Turkish stock exchange. However, Mr. Papandreou added that investments on the part of Turkey are fewer.

Greek Banks to Expand Activities in Turkey
National Bank of Greece’s (NBG) presence in Turkey, through its subsidiary Finansbank, continues developing without any problems, despite an international crisis that affected the neighbouring country as well, Agis Leopoulos, NBG director general responsible for International Activities, told a Greek-Turkish Business Forum.

In his address, Mr. Leopoulos said Finansbank was currently the fifth largest private bank in Turkey and continues growing, operating a branch network of 460 units and almost fully covering the country geographically, while it contributed 46 % of National Bank’s profitability.

Eurobank clearly intends to further expand activities in Turkey through its subsidiary Eurobank Tefken, by exploiting new opportunities in the country, George Marinos, Eurobank’s director general, told the business forum.

Mr. Marinos said the bank planned to raise its branch network with the addition of 25-30 new units annually and to actively support Greek businesses investing in Turkey.

Ziraat Bank is satisfied with its business activity in Greece and plans new investments and expansion in Thessaloniki and Xanthi, the bank’s director general in Greece, Oznur Ozenis, told the forum. He urged Turkish businesspeople to invest in Greece.

May 18,