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Newsletter July 2011


Energy Market Highlights
At the recent "2011 Mediterranean Oil & Gas Conference" held in Athens, energy market leaders addressed a wide range of issues related to Greece’s energy status.

Hellenic Petroleum Group officially expressed interest in participating in oil and natural gas exploration projects in Greece. Yiannis Kostopoulos, the group's chief executive, said Hellenic Petroleum was awaiting completion of a regulatory framework by the government to participate in on-shore and off-shore exploration.

Mr. Kostopoulos said lower demand for liquid fuel, because of the economic crisis, was pressuring the European refinery industry and noted that several refineries have either been sold or closed down in the last few months. He noted, however, that there was increased demand in the Mediterranean from non-European countries, particularly for diesel oil, and said that Hellenic Petroleum was focusing on raising production of diesel oil.

Mr. Kostopoulos said the Greek market has recorded a 10-14 percent decline in demand and stressed that the group was boosting its export activities.

Harry Sahinis, chief executive of DEPA, said demand for natural gas in Greece was expected to rise to 4.0 billion cubic metres this year, from 3.6 billion in 2010, reflecting increased use of natural gas in electricity production.

Al Cook, vice-chairman of BP Shah Deniz Development, said the company has asked from the three candidate natural gas pipelines (Turkey-Greece-Italy, TAP and Nabucco) to present the plans by October 1.

Marcel Kramer, chief executive of South Stream, presented the benefits for Europe and Greece offered by the natural gas pipeline which will transport natural gas supplies to Europe.

Kjetil Tungland, managing director of TAP, presented the benefits of the natural gas pipeline saying it was the cheapest and offered the shortest route.

Folli Follie and Fosun International
Greece’s Folli Follie Group announced the signing of a memorandum of cooperation with Fosun International, China’s largest investment group, under which the Chinese group will acquire a 9.5 percent equity stake in the Greek company. Folli Follie management said the agreement paved the way for significant investments in Greece by Chinese capital and underlined the significant synergies for the Greek economy. The agreement with Fosun will also accelerate and strengthen Folli Follie Group’s expansion plans in China.

May 5, 2011

Regional Cooperation
A one-day conference was held in Athens on May 18 to focus on efforts to boost the wider region's business environment and cross-border trade cooperation.

The same conference--"Building Powerful Influence: The New Face of Regional Business"--took place in Belgrade two days later on May 20. 

Presentations and discussions touched on the issues of global leadership, international negotiations and conflict resolution, regional business development, strategic cross-border communications, international-regional relations, so-called "glocalisation" and entrepreneurship.

Speakers included Alex Rondos, a noted former Greek ambassador at large, and current international foreign relations adviser; Michael Landers, a global business consultant; Oleh R Kaarmik, a global negotiator and mediator; Dimitris Keridis, a professor of regional studies and Balkan expert; Elena Panaritis, an economist and author of the book "Prosperity Unbound; Annette Rondos, a cross-cultural and corporate communications trainer; and Elisabeth Morris-Maragoula, an international strategic communications consultant.

May 6, 2011

Taxation Reform
The major project for the Greek government is a radical simplification of tax laws in the country, former Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou emphasised in May at a conference organised by Transparency International Greece on the issue of “State and Corruption: How to Build High Levels of Integrity.” Mr. Papaconstantinou, commenting on "grey zones" existing in the relations between taxpayers and tax agency officials, stressed that taxpayers must be kept out of tax agencies.

Along these lines, he recently announced a drastic cut in the number of tax bureaus around the country--from 300 to around 80--in an effort to combat corruption.

The minister reiterated once again that tax evasion was a crime and noted that this crime was so big that was undermining a recovery of the economy. He added that he did not believe in the necessity of one single tax factor, but to a progressive tax system.

“We are currently in a difficult position, as the country was based on the wrong growth model. This does not mean that there is no prospect,” he added and expressed his optimism that measures adopted by the government would result to fiscal consolidation, more jobs, and growth.

May 10, 2011

Beijing-Athens Direct Flights Launched
The launch of direct flights from Beijing to Athens will further promote economic and political ties between Greece and China according to then Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis who was in China on the occasion of the launch of direct flights from Beijing to Athens via Munich by Air China. During his visit, China and Greece also signed a joint statement for facilitating the issuance of visas to each other's citizens.

The direct flights and visa arrangements will boost the number of visitors in two-way tourism and promote economic and political ties as well as people-to-people exchanges, then Minister Kouvelis told China’s Xinhua news agency.

May 11, 2011

Cruising Strength
The Mediterranean, as a cruise destination, is acquiring an increasing share of the global market, which is marked by a shift of interest from the mature market of the Caribbean to the wider region of the Mediterranean, then Maritime Affairs, Islands and Fisheries Minister Yiannis Diamantidis said on June 2, opening the general assembly of Mediterranean and Black Sea Ports taking place in Piraeus.

A total of 108 representatives of Mediterranean ports and international cruise companies from all countries of the Mediterranean as well as from the Black Sea and Red Sea countries, took part in the assembly.

Minister Diamantidis noted that cruise operators from Miami, the center of global cruises, estimate that by 2014 the Mediterranean will be the top cruise destination. The minister said that a big boost in home porting (boarding and disembarkation of a passenger in the same port) will begin for Greece in 2012, given that major companies make their plans on a 2-3 year basis.

He added that there has been a 10% increase in cruise ship arrivals in Greece with a simultaneous increase in tourist arrivals of more than 20%.

June 10, 2011

Greek Travel Business News
The Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO) has recently released a new English newsletter titled Greek Travel Business News. The newly-launched bulletin offers brief updates on the travel trade market twice a month, with links to online sources for additional information.

Presenting developments in the tourism industry, Greek Travel Business News focuses mainly on activities of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism, GNTO Offices abroad, as well as regional Tourism Offices. The first issue was published on June 1, while the second is currently online.

June 22, 2011

New GNTO-Google Partnership
The Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO) has launched a new cooperation project with Google, in an effort to promote more effectively Greece as a tourism destination. Since May 27, an advertising campaign via the latest of web tools such as Google Display Network, You Tube and Google search has been underway. The campaign will be on-line until the end of 2011.

June 22, 2011

Greece-China Agreement
Greece and China, on May 16, signed a five-year cooperation agreement on quality, hygiene and safety of farm products and foods.

The agreement, signed between Greece's agricultural development and foods ministry and China's quality control general inspectorate, is expected to contribute to closer cooperation between the two countries with the aim of facilitating Greek farm and food product exports to the Chinese market.

"Our aim is to further promote the good cooperation between our two ministries," Chinese minister Zhi Shuping said, noting the close ties that have developed between Greece and China in recent years.

"This is the fourth consecutive agreement we have signed with the general inspectorate," Greece’s Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Costas Skandalidis said.

The accord covers the mutual recognition of production systems and quality certification, as well as the control and certification methods for agricultural and food products hygiene and safety between the two countries.

The cooperation will include exchanges of information and knowhow regarding the management and operation of certification systems in the production of agricultural products and foods, as well as programmes for preventive controls and quarantine rules.

It further envisages exchange of knowhow in the development of standards in the production of certified quality products and monitoring, control and certification systems, including the requirements for cross-border promotion of agricultural products and foods.

In that context, a Mixed Greek-Chinese Committee will be established which will meet regularly in Greece and China.

May 17, 2011

RES Production Up
Production capacity by Renewable Energy Sources grew 20.3 percent on average in the 2002-2010 period, according to a survey by Greece’s ICAP organisation. The report said that electricity power sales by Renewable Energy Sources grew 25 percent in 2009 over the previous year.

ICAP said the sector, however, was growing in an unbalanced way, with the market focusing mainly on the technologically mature and economically more competitive wind power energy sector. Wind power parks accounted for 78 percent of total capacity, followed by small hydro-electric power units (12 percent), photovoltaic parks (7.4 percent) and bio gas and maze units (2.4 percent). Wind power energy should account for 72 percent of all Renewable Energy Sources capacity by 2020.

The market has witnessed the birth of strong business groups, with a large number of subsidiaries, in the sector. A group balance sheet of 77 enterprises in the sector showed that sales grew 16.6 percent in 2009 over the previous year, while EBITDA rose 19.9 percent and pre-tax profits jumped 37.4 percent.

May 17, 2011

Advanced Building Programme
The National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), also known as the Metsovian Polytechnic, will head a European research project involving a consortium of 18 major construction companies and institutions for the development of a building with a zero carbon footprint.

The Hydrogen 2 Sustainable Building is envisaged as an "intelligent, self-sustained and zero CO2 emission hybrid energy system" that integrates H2 technology with renewable energy systems.

The building will be designed to cover all its electricity needs from RES such as wind power or solar power, while any 'extra' green electricity generated will be used to hydrolyse water for the production and storage of H2 that can also be used to meet the building's energy needs.

Among others participating in the project is the Greek subsidiary of Schneider Electric, which will provide the research team with solutions and equipment for the energy management of the building. This will include 25 gauges of electricity production and consumption and checking the consumption balance through a specialised automated system.

February 16, 2011