Newsletter View

Newsletter October 2010


Creating Stronger Greek-Lebanese Business Relations

Henry Hafez, of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce, Industry & Agriculture in Lebanon, discusses the potential to build strong trade and investment relations between Greece and Lebanon at this critical time.

You attended the 3rd Annual Arab-Greek Economic Forum in Athens. Did you discover potential investment and business opportunities at the Forum for Greek and Lebanese companies?

According to my estimation, although the economic conditions, not only in Greece, but in the broader area and internationally are not at their best, there are always possibilities for investment in Greece. The presentations at the Forum made it abundantly clear that there are significant opportunities for investors, especially from the Arab world. For example, I learned of many interesting projects in the sectors of Renewable Sources of Energy, Services, Tourism & Hotel Industries, as well as in Healthcare and Hospitals. Mind you, Lebanon has one of the most elaborate clinics for eye and vision treatment so there are possible synergies in such areas. And of course I was pleased to see how active “Consolidated Contractors Co. SAL” (CCC), the massive Lebanese company which is based in Athens, Greece.

What areas do you believe offer the most promise between Greece and Lebanon for business partnerships?

There are a number of areas in which Greek and Lebanese businesspeople may cooperate. Certainly one is the services industry, especially financial services, in which Greece is a leader in Southeast Europe and in which Lebanon excels. The Lebanese Banking Industry has managed to combine the world’s best Banking systems, such as the American and the Swiss, so I believe this is an area of significant potential. Greece is positioned to be a banking hub to the north and the west, whereas Lebanon is well positioned to the East.

Similarly, in what areas or sectors do you believe Greece offers opportunities for FDI?

The Greek Government, and in particular the Prime Minister of Greece Mr. George Papandreou, has created a new Green Growth agenda. The areas of RES, waste management, and environmental services are areas that will provide long-term benefits for investors from throughout the world.

And of course the entire Mediterranean region can form win-win alliances to harness the wave of interest in Green development and share in the protection and improvement of our common heritage: land, sea, air, and of course our rich cultural and historical assets. The recent visit to Lebanon of Prime Minister Papandreou sends a strong signal that our region must cooperate in FDI and in protecting our common wealth. 

We are entering a new economic era, one filled with both uncertainty and promise. The Med countries provide multiple synergies for the global investment community. How do you view the synergies evolving among Med countries in areas such as tourism, energy, transport and logistics, and R&D?

More than promising. As I said, our shared seas and borders, as well as our common heritage, make us natural partners. Tourism is a good example. The interest in the Mediterranean diet, culture, religions, and ancient history provide a perfect leverage for common growth. Energy markets are being developed with new pipelines. And we must not forget the potential to join forces in marketing our human capital. There are significant opportunities to conduct joint R&D in many areas that will be growth engines of tomorrow.

What is the message that you will pass on to Lebanese businesspeople in relation to Greece as we move forward?

In a word, it is in our hands to turn difficulties into great investment opportunities. I believe Greece and Lebanon can, and should, explore these opportunities to the benefit and advantage of our two peoples.