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Newsletter October 2010


Greece-Israel Ties Boosted

Prime Minister George Papandreou expressed his satisfaction over the official visit to Greece by his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu on August 16, the first by a standing Israeli prime minister.

Mr. Papandreou referred to very productive talks with his Israeli counterpart. He said that a joint Greek-Israeli committee will be set up to enable cooperation to proceed more creatively and strategically.

"Relations between Greece and Israel are not competitive with other bilateral or multilateral cooperation," the Greek prime minister said when asked whether such a committee might create problems with neighbouring Turkey.

Mr. Papandreou also said a meeting was decided between the corresponding tourism, finance and economy ministries so that mutual visits to the two countries by businesspeople and related investment initiatives can be organised.

"We do not believe that relations between Greece and Turkey and Israel and Turkey are competitive to relations we are developing with Israel," Mr. Papandreou emphasised, adding that "regional cooperation is of vital importance for good neighourliness, as well as for resolving problems in the region, which are many."

On his part, Mr. Netanyahu said: "I agree absolutely with every word that Mr. Papandreou said, it would be something unnatural if we do not strengthen relations between Greece and Israel." He added that Israel is interested in improving its relations with Turkey, but is also interested in developing its relations with Greece in all sectors.

Mr. Papandreou expressed certainty that the visit will be helpful in developing bilateral cooperation, as well as cooperation in such sectors as investments, tourism, energy, telecoms, IT services, water desalination and innovation technologies.

Cooperation will also take place in the sector of renewable energy sources, new farm technologies and security.

Mr. Netanyahu referred to cooperation between the two countries in a series of sectors, especially in tourism, with the possibility of attracting tourists who would like to visit Athens and Jerusalem.

The Israeli prime minister said he and Mr. Papandreou also discussed defense and security issues, adding that we want a "peaceful Middle East", while he also briefed Papandreou on the steps taken by Israel for the start of direct Israeli-Palestinian talks.
The Greek prime minister further said that Greece has traditionally good relations with its neighbours, while ground exists for further deepening its relations with Israel.

Lastly, Mr. Netanyahu said "economic cooperation between Greece and Israel is to the benefit of both countries," while terming as "difficult and courageous the decisions" that Mr. Papandreou took shore up the economy and public finances, while promising that Israel will help as much as it can in terms of economic growth, "since this is the solution to the crisis."

Finally, Mr. Papandreou underlined that "our role is not to talk a lot, but to act; to assist in the contacts between Palestinians and Israelis, between the Arab world and Europe; we are ready to contribute anywhere we can; our goal is for a solution for peace in the Middle East as soon as possible."

August 17, 2010

Invest in Greece President Addresses Diplomats
Dr. Paraskevi Boufounou, President of Invest in Greece, addressed diplomats in Athens on September 30, 2010 at an event held in cooperation with The Centre of Planning and Economic Research (KEPE). Members of the Economic and Commercial Diplomats Club of Athens (ECDC) attended. KEPE researchers presented the short- and medium-term prospects of the Greek economy and analysed the key components of domestic demand and exports. Invest in Greece discussed supporting international investors through its comprehensive services and its role to facilitate new and expanding business activities in Greece.

In her presentation to diplomats from around the globe, President Boufounou discussed the “New Investment Era” emerging in Greece as the country enacts bold reforms and follows a strict yet beneficial austerity plan. The President cited the unique competitive advantages Greece offers to investors and how, due to geographic location, a new investment framework, binding regulations related to renewable energy sources (RES), and its superb natural and human resources, Greece offers a bright investment future.

The key priority sectors of the government, Tourism, RES, Food and Beverage, ICT, Life Sciences, and Environmental Management, are all areas that are set to experience significant growth during the next decade and will benefit from Greece’s new Investment Law, Accelerated Investment Implementation, and major structural reform being carried out today.

September 30, 2010

Mykonos Number One
The readers of the U.S. edition of Conde Nast Traveler magazine voted Mykonos as the “Best European Island,” with the highest total score of 78.0.

The central Aegean island received the Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Award, topping other top island destinations, among them Ibiza, Capri, Madera, and Majorca.

October 16, 2010

Greek Exports Up
The value of Greek exports grew 18.7 percent in August 2010 to 1.173 billion Euro, up from 988 million Euro in August 2009, according to the Hellenic Statistical Authority.

The statistics service, in a report on Greece’s trade, said that the value of imports in the country dropped 29.7 percent to 2.427 billion Euro from 3.455 billion Euro in August 2009.

Greece’s traditional trade partners are apparently recovering strongly, while new market targets are emerging, according to a report on Greek exports, compiled by the Panhellenic Federation of Exporters.

Presenting the report, which is based on figures for the first half of the year, Christina Sakellaridi, the President of the Federation said: “With the domestic market and the economy in recession, it is time to seek export opportunities,” adding that economic reforms currently underway should be accompanied by an "aggressive national export strategy directly linked with attracting foreign investments."

Greek exports grew 3.0 percent in value in the January-June period to 7.384 billion Euro, up from 7.167 billion Euro last year, while imports fell 18.4 percent to 20.097 billion Euro, down from 24.638 billion Euro, respectively.

The country’s trade deficit shrank to 12.714 billion Euro in the first half of 2010 -- down from 17.471 billion Euro in 2009, a decline of 27.2 percent.

Exports to OECD countries grew 2.8 percent, accounting for 57.8 percent of Greek export value. Exports rose 6.8 percent to EU countries, 1.5 percent to the Balkans, 22.5 percent to the Federation of Independent States, 8.4 percent to Middle East and North Africa, while exports fell 26.6 percent to North America, 31.1 percent to Africa and 21.1 percent to Latin America.

Exports to Germany (8.4 percent) and the UK (51.4 percent) grew strongly, regaining significant market share, while exports to Turkey rose 28.8 percent; 11.4 percent to Romania; 31 percent to Russia; 58.1 percent to the UAE and a whopping 55.8 percent to China. Exports fell 34.9 percent to the United States, 62.4 percent to Switzerland and 16 percent to Egypt.

Major export products included manufacturing products (4.318 billion Euro), agricultural products grew 1.0 percent; fuel exports were stagnant and exports of raw materials jumped 16.3 percent.

October 12, 2010

Greece and Uruguay Sign Agreements
Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis and his counterpart from Uruguay Roberto Conde signed two bilateral agreements on economic and tourism cooperation during a meeting held in Athens on October 1.

Minister Kouvelis noted that Uruguay "was an exceptionally friendly country and a very important partner for promoting our partnerships in the region of Latin America, in our effort to promote the outward nature of the Greek economy."

Of particular interest is cooperation between the two countries in the shipping sector, given that Greek shipping is significantly represented in Uruguay, while the two sides noted the need to cooperate on a regional level in the framework of the EU and Mercosur and noted that the two organisations should take a greater interest in the needs and interests of small countries.

October 4, 2010

Privatisation Programme
The government’s privatisation programme will climax in the 2011-2013 period, with the target being to raise 3.0 billion Euro, Giorgos Christodoulakis, the special secretary for privatisations at the finance ministry said.

Quoted by the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Christodoulakis said, “We encourage viable private investments but we want to ensure the public interest with modern procedures so there will be no hurried decisions,” adding that the programme was aimed to restructuring the Greek economy and not only to fill the state's coffers.

He also cited "serious interest" from abroad for the state-run Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE).

“We have received serious international interest for OSE and we expect to proceed with the privatisation of a restructured organisation next year, when OSE will be profitable,” he said.

Commenting on Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE), Mr. Christodoulakis said the state will not reduce its equity participation, currently at 20 percent. He said, however, that the government intended to sell its equity participation in the Mont Parness Casino (currently 49 percent), probably by the end of the year.

September 30, 2010

PPC, EDF Cooperation
Public Power Corporation approved the framework of cooperation with France’s EDF Energies Nouvelles and EDF EN Greece in the development of renewable energy sources with an output of around 400 MW in Greece.

The cooperation includes PPC, PPC Renewables, EDF Energies Nouvelles and EFG EN Greece and focuses on—in priority—the development of wind power parks in Florina (northern Greece), Crete and Viotia. PPC said the cooperation is based on the know-how and expertise of both groups and focuses on the joint development and management of large, complex and technologically-advanced projects in the renewable energy sector.

September 28, 2010

Peloponnese Plans
The Greek government is drafting a master plan envisaging the development of Kaifas spa facilities and the development of real estate in the seaside regions of Zaharo and Kounoupeli, in the prefecture of Ilia, western Peloponnese.

The Head of Hellenic Tourism Development Co, Avgi Markopoulou and the Chief Executive Dimitris Lambrou, discussed the plan during a three-day tour of the locations, September 23-25, as part of a strategy to accelerate procedures towards a more efficient use of tourism real estate.

In a series of meetings, held with local authorities, talks focused on ways to achieve the better management of spa facilities in Kaifas and Kyllini. Helenic Tourism Development plans to launch open tenders for both projects. “These properties could be very well developed, upgrading the Ilia region both touristically and economically, ensuring the region’s environmental characteristics,” Mrs Markopoulou said.

September 28, 2010

BTG Pactual Eyes Greece
BTG Pactual, Latin America’s largest investment bank, is reportedly examining plans to boost its investment presence in Greece.

Representatives of the Brazil-based bank, with a presence in London, New York and Hong Kong, discussed the prospect with the director of the Institute for International Economic Relations, Haralambos Tsardanidis and a group of Greek businesspeople during a closed-session organised by the Association of Societe Anonymes and Limited Companies of Greece.

The meeting focused on problems and macro-economic prospects of the Greek economy and problems facing Greek banks in the approval of business loans, along with problems facing local enterprises in their transactions with state agencies. 

September 24, 2010

Greece-Iran Ties
The president of the chamber of commerce of Iran's Zanjan province called for the creation of a Greek-Iranian chamber of commerce and database. Ibrahim Jamil made the proposal during a special event at the Thessaloniki Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

He headed up a 17-member delegation on the Thessaloniki visit. 

According to data provided by the Greek side for 2008, the total volume of trade between Greece and Iran totals two billion Euro, of which 99.6 percent concerns oil imports, making Iran Greece's ninth biggest supplier.

In the same year, the value of Greek exports to Iran reached 8.2 million Euro.

September 9, 2010

School Building Tender
The Environment and Energy Ministry has issued a 25-million-Euro tender for the construction of energy-saving and more eco-friendly school buildings.

The tender refers to first and secondary schools that will incorporate the principles of bio-climatic planning and will combine the use of RES systems. 

The tender is part of the "Environment and Sustainable Development" operation programme envisioned in the 4th CSF.

September 8, 2010

Major Biodiesel Effort
The Environment, Energy and Climate Change ministry announced the results of a tender for supplying the Greek market with 164 million litres of biodiesel in the next 12 months (July 2010 until June 2011), saying contracts have been awarded to 16 companies.

A ministerial decision ratifying the result was signed on August 4 by Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, Deputy Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis and Deputy Rural Development Minister Mihalis Kahrimakis.

Biodiesel is produced by energy crops such as sunflowers, soya, rapeseed and cotton and from used vegetable oils and animal fats, a portion of which are imported.

The environment ministry said that Greek energy crops account for more than half the biodiesel supply for this year. The biodiesel will be delivered to the Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) and Motor Oil refineries to be mixed with conventional diesel fuel and sold on the market.
In awarding the contracts, priority was given to Greek energy crops on contract that more than doubled relative to 2009, with nearly 100,000 hectares now given over to the cultivation of energy crops in Greece.

The 16 companies participating in the supply of biodiesel include the Northern Greece Cotton Gins and Cotton Mills SA, Petsas SA - Underwear Industry, Biodiesel LTD, KatOil AEBE, Staff Colour - Energy ABEE, Agroinvest, Motor Oil (Hellas) Corinth Refineries SA, Pavlos N. Pettas ABEE, Phytoenergeia SA, ELIN Biofuels SA, Biodiesel SA, GF Energy ABEE, Mil Oil Hellas SA, Manos SA, ELBI - Hellenic Biopetroleums ABEE and Oil.B S.R.L.

August 8, 2010