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Newsletter October 2013


Greece, Israel Advance Relations

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras led a mission to Israel on October 8-9, 2013 in an effort to solidify relations between the two countries and to increase strategic cooperation in a number of key areas, including investment.

The Prime Minister was accompanied on the mission by senior members of his government, the CEO of Invest in Greece, and more than 100 businesspeople, who met with potential business partners, engaged in a Greece-Israel Business Forum, and participated in more than 400 one-on-one B2B meetings.

In comments made after his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mr. Samaras stated the need for strategic cooperation between the two countries. He said that Greece and Cyprus, both members of the European Union, could gradually become Israel's link with the bloc.

“A lot remains to be done; this is still the beginning,” Mr. Samaras said. Mr. Netanyahu praised Greece's Premier for his handling of the country's ongoing debt crisis which, he said, “required courage and strength.”

“Something is changing in Greece. I am encouraging Israeli [businesses] to invest in Greece,” Mr. Netanyahu said.

Within the framework of the visit, the Ministry for Development and Competitiveness and Invest in Greece held a business mission which included 104 Greek business and industry representatives. The Greek companies and business organisations are primarily from the technology, construction, energy, ICT, tourism, pharmaceuticals and food sectors.

On day one, the Greek business delegates attended investment seminars, held meetings with chambers, and participated in key site visits, to learn more about the Israeli business environment and to foster greater cooperation in a number of sectors. 

Invest in Greece and the Ministry also organised a Business Forum that took place on October 9, with speeches and presentations by Greeks and Israelis, and private Business-to-Business (B2B) meetings. More than 150 Israeli business representatives participated in the Business Forum, and more than 400 B2B meetings between Greek and Israeli businesses were held. 

The Business Forum was organised in a partnership among the Greek Embassy in Israel and Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce and Industries Association, Israeli Export & International Cooperation Institute.

At the event, the CEO of Invest in Greece Stephanos Issaias, spoke of the opportunities offered by Greece to Israeli investors. He also noted that Israel has embraced research, innovation and entrepreneurship, part of its Start Up identity, and spoke of the many investment options for Israelis in Greece and the numerous partnership opportunities between Greek and Israeli entrepreneurs. The Head of the Investment Promotion Unit of Invest in Greece Dr. Angela Michalopoulou, also participated in the mission, where she presented Greece’s investment environment to the Israeli delegates.

Mr. Issaias and his counterpart at Invest in Israel Mr. Oded Distel, signed a Memorandum of Intent between the two organisations to promote investment and strengthen cooperation between the two bodies. The Memorandum focuses on the exchange of expertise and information, and to encourage, facilitate and support investment meetings, events, conferences and business missions mutually beneficial for both sides.

During the mission, the Minister for Development and Competitiveness Kostis Hatzidakis signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with Yozma, Israel’s top investment fund and one of the biggest in the world in new technology enterprises.

The aim of the memorandum is the transfer of know-how in the development and implementation of policies that will accelerate the emergence of new and innovative enterprises. It also foresees the creation of a joint task force to create an environment that encourages innovation, and the coordination of efforts to attract joint Greek and Israeli investment funds to invest in Greek innovative enterprises.

Ever since its creation in 1993, Yozma (which is Hebrew for “initiative”) has administered over $220 million and has made direct investments to about 50 companies.

Promoting Synergies in Shipping

In today’s global economy, encouraging new business partnerships is a key function of diplomats and government officials. 

Panayiotis Mihalos, Secretary General for International Economic Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, spoke at the 5th Hydra Shipping Conference on September 14, 2013, attended by leaders in the shipping industry from Greece and China.

Invest in Greece presents highlights from the keynote address of Secretary General Mihalos.

“The goal must be to create a sustainable environment for Greek and world shipping. We need a synergistic re-arrangement with China in order to maintain the current financing tools and secure charter rates that make sense.

“If we add to this picture the rapid development of Piraeus, as the number one port-hub in Europe for Chinese products, then we can clearly see a valuable sea trade link uniting Greece and China, opening the way for extending and deepening economic cooperation between our two nations.

“COSCO’s investment in the port of Piraeus is still the most important foreign investment in Greece. COSCO’s investment has contributed more than half a billion Euro in state revenue since 2009. We are still at the start of its 35-year concession.

“As a result of the new capabilities that were created, Greek ports in total gained 8 positions in the last 2 years according to the Liner Shipping Connectivity Index, which has just been made public by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

“Additionally, COSCO will implement a new investment of 230 million Euro at Terminal Three and finance the construction of a new fuel terminal for OLP – the Port Authority. The Chinese operator is increasing the capacity of its two Terminals to 6.2 million TEU’s, up from less than 1 million TEU’s a couple of years ago.

“Let me assure you that in all my contacts with Chinese officials and entrepreneurs, I have always found shipping and maritime trade a solid basis upon which to build new cooperation avenues between China and Greece:
• New investment and trade opportunities in real estate
• In exports and in Chinese direct investment in technology and logistics
• Chinese high tech conglomerates, such as HUAWEI and ZTE, are already creating research and logistics centers in Greece aiming at the greater geographical area
• The full privatisation of the Piraeus Port, in the form of either a concession or a sale of shares
• The creation of a logistics center at Thriassion in Elefsina
• The privatisation of our train system

“These are complementary projects of considerable interest to Chinese companies.”

“Shipping has brought China to Greece and Greece to China and this fact is critical for the re-launch of our national economy.”