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Newsletter October 2013


Prime Minister Highlights FDI in U.S. visits

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras substantiated the priority Greece gives to attracting investment in recent, high impact visits to the United States.
In August, the Prime Minister met with U.S. President Barack Obama and had a number of meetings in Washington and New York, where he discussed issues of common concern and focused on highlighting the advantages of investing in Greece.

Mr. Samaras met with the editorial staff of the Washington Post and attended a working lunch with 15 influential figures of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

In New York he met with 20 senior executives of investment groups, which manage assets of more than 600 billion Euro, and discussed investment opportunities opening up in Greece. Several of the company representatives who attended the meeting are already active investors in Greece, while others are looking into making investments in the near future. The meeting was also attended by Greece’s Vice Minister of Development and Competitiveness Notis Mitarachi, who briefed potential investors on the country’s new favourable investment legislation.

Invest in Greece CEO Stephanos Issaias attended the meeting and briefed participants on the details of Greece’s investment opportunities.

In a meeting with the Prime Minister, Secretary of State John Kerry expressed solidarity with the efforts made by the Greek people. The one-hour meeting was held in an excellent atmosphere, with Department of State spokesperson Jen Psaki saying that it was a “productive” meeting that “reaffirmed Greek-American relations.” 

Prime Minister Samaras was welcomed by U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House on August 8 for a meeting. In statements made by the two men afterwards, the U.S. President expressed the view that Greece’s efforts to exit the crisis cannot be focused only on austerity but require growth and the creation of new jobs. Mr. Obama spoke of the deep friendship existing between the two countries, making special reference to the Greek-American community.

“We are all watching the challenge facing Greece in proceeding with structural reforms to reduce its debt. The Prime Minister told me that he is committed to go ahead, but this cannot be done solely through austerity measures. Apart from budget consolidation, there has to be growth and job creation,” President Obama said.

The President also noted that the U.S. will stand by Greece by providing assistance, saying that there is a strong relationship between the two countries, as Greece is a partner of the U.S. in NATO and cooperate in the military sector and security issues.

Mr. Obama added that Greece is located in an area facing challenges and difficulties and can play an important stabilising role and provide solutions to problems, including that of Cyprus. He summed up by referring to the excellent discussion he had with the Greek Premier.

Prime Minister Samaras said Greece and the U.S. are more than allies and share the same values. “The enormous sacrifices by the Greek people should not be in vain,” he said, further referring to the problem of unemployment in Greece and particularly youth unemployment.

The Greek Premier said “the Greek success story will also be a European success story” and that Greece is trying to achieve stability in a very destabilised environment.

Mr. Samaras underlined Greece’s massive energy reserves, in the Greece-Cyprus-Israel triangle. "We are trying to align synergies by contributing to Europe's energy security," he said. Finally, Mr. Samaras referred to Greece’s Presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2014.

The U.S. delegation comprised Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, then U.S. Ambassador to Athens Daniel Bennett Smith, National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Global Economy Adviser and former IMF official Karoly Atkinson and White House Executives on European Affairs Karen Donfried and Michael Sesams.

Mr. Samaras’ meeting with the U.S. President was also attended by White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and Deputy Secretary of State William Burns.

Prime Minister Visits U.S. Second Time
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras had successive meetings in New York on September 30 with the CEOs of companies listed on the stock market, before taking part in a roundtable discussion organised by JP Morgan.

Taking part in the meetings were representatives of the companies: JP Morgan, BlueCrest Capital Management LLP, Eaglevale Partners LP, EMSO Partners Limited, Fidelity Management & Research Co., Greylock Capital Management, LLC, King Street Capital, Lazard Asset Management, Norges Bank Investment Management, NWI Management LP, Oppenheimer Funds, QFR Capital Management L.P., Wellington Management Co and BTG Pactual Asset Management.

Later, Mr. Samaras attended a lunch with the CEOs of listed firms at the offices of Marea that was attended by representatives of the financial and media firms Goldman Sachs, Blackrock, News Corp, Paulson & Co, BIC, Thomson Reuters, Alcoa and Highbridge.

The premier was to open avenues of communication with firms active in the global bond market ahead of Greece's planned return to borrowing on the market in the second half of 2014.

Calls on Greek Americans
Mr. Samaras called on Greek-American entrepreneurs to invest in Greece in a meeting he had on September 29 with Greek-American community representatives.

“The country has a strong and stable government supported by two political parties that agree on its European prospect and I invite you to come and see for yourselves that the situation has changed,” Mr. Samaras said, adding that the situation in the greater region is favourable for Greece as it is reflected in this year's tourist arrivals that are close to 18 million.

“Greece is emerging as a country that attracts entrepreneurship because it is necessary for us in order to survive in a competitive world,” the Prime Minister said, noting that Greece's attitude toward entrepreneurship is changing and is not as reserved as it used to be.

“Investors are being met with a red carpet instead of the red tape that existed in the past,” he underlined.

He noted that the government is making specific moves, like the investment law and the reduction of red tape, thus offering incentives and lifting past obstacles and dysfunctions. He also said that his office is open to representatives of major companies from around the world, noting that he recently met with the head of IBM.

Mr. Samaras also said that there are difficulties as a result of the situation the country is in and repeated his goal for a 15 percent flat rate tax which, for the time being, is impossible because of the present circumstances. 

He also said that a new real estate taxation law will be adopted that will favour that market, and boost the construction sector which is a key factor for economic growth.

(Source: ANA)

Tourism Minister in the United States
Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogiannis, during a visit to the United States, held meetings with senior executives of the U.S. tourism industry and major media groups to highlight Greece's new tourism identity, comparative advantages and the security Greece offers as a tourism destination.

The Minister pointed to improvements of the Greek tourism product via changes in the legislative framework made during the summer, and placed special emphasis on theme tourism such as medical, spa, and religious tourism, conferences and 'senior' tourism packages. She also outlined the government's strategy, saying this seeks to attract and facilitate investment in the country.

While in New York, Mrs. Kefalogiannis gave interviews to the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, in which she stressed that the Tourism Ministry sought to make Greece an attractive destination for Americans, and met the publisher of ForbesWoman Moira Forbes.

October 4, 2013
(Source: ANA)