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Newsletter December 2013


Huawei Launches Major Pilot Project at Port of Piraeus

Chinese technology and communication solutions giant Huawei inaugurated on December 12 a pilot distribution centre at Piraeus port, another significant step enhancing cooperation between Greece and China.

The official opening of the distribution centre, at the premises of Chinese multinational shipping conglomerate Cosco's subsidiary Piraeus Container Terminal SA (PCT) at Greece's biggest port, is the fulfillment of Huawei's commitment made in May 2013 to the Greek government, during Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' official visit to China.

From now on Huawei, a leading global provider of technology and communications solutions (ICT) which serves more than one-third of the world's population in 140 countries and regions, will be distributing its products to European markets through Greece.

"The Huawei distribution center strengthens Piraeus and Greece's position on the global transportation map," Development and Competitiveness Minister Kostis Hatzidakis said during the opening ceremony, which was also attended by Shipping Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis.

The investment is regarded as a "confidence vote for Greece by a robust multinational company," Mr. Hatzidakis said.

Minister Hatzidakis said he was very happy to celebrate one more Chinese investment in Greece, a country which is thirsty for investment and committed to become a business friendly country.

Minister Varvitsiotis said that the Greek government wants Pireaus to become the number one port and logistics centre in the Mediterranean Sea.

"Until now our partnership with Cosco has been an example of how serious partners can make a big dream come true. We are fully committed in exploiting and increasing our cooperation," said Mr. Varvitsiotis. He said Greece is changing and the ports of Greece are becoming the new gates of the European continent and EU market.

On his part, Chinese Ambassador to Greece Du Qiwen welcomed the pilot operation of the distribution centre, saying that the project will help "translate the advantages of the geographical location of the Port of Piraeus into a tangible competitive edge for long-term development of the Port of Piraeus and of Greece as a whole."

Zhou Jun, Managing Director of Huawei Technologies Greece, noted that the first container with Huawei products arrived in Greece in November, marking the start of the new cooperation with PCT.

"We believe that our presence in the country will contribute to the Greek economy. With the launch of this programme, we will confirm the potential for future expansion," he said.

Captain Fu Chengqiu, PCT CEO, expressed gratitude for the Greek government's support to the investment.

With a capacity of handling more than 4 million TEUs per year, PCT has become an important partner for the strategic goals of Huawei, as well as for other multinational giants.

Earlier this year U.S. electronics giant Hewlett-Packard (HP) signed a deal with PCT for the distribution of HP products to Europe, Northern African countries and the Middle East through Piraeus port.

PCT launched operations in the country at Pier II at Piraeus port in 2009 with a plan to turn it into a leading container terminal in the Mediterranean Sea region and ever since has posted remarkable results.

December 12, 2013

Airlines Expand Routes to Greece

British Air, easyJet, and SAS have added new routes to serve Greece.

British Airways Expands Routes to Greece
British Airways will operate direct flights next year from the British capital to the Greek islands of Myconos and Santorini for the high season of March until October, Gavin Halliday, BA’s general manager for Africa and Europe, said on the occasion of the 80-year anniversary since the company started flying to Athens.

Flights to the two Greek islands will operate from BA’s main hub at Heathrow Airport twice a week.

Both Greek islands enjoyed a major increase in incoming tourism from abroad, thereby evolving into profitable markets for airlines such as BA. Further growth is anticipated next season.

Subsidiary British Airways Holidays will be offering package holidays on the two Cyclades islands in cooperation with local hotels.

BA is also adding a fifth daily flight on Saturdays for the summer season.

November 28, 2013

easyJet Adds Five New Routes to Greece
easyJet announced the launch of five new routes to and from Athens, Heraklion, Kos, Mykonos and Corfu for the 2014 tourism season.

Three of the airline’s new routes will be launched in spring 2014: the Athens-Hamburg route will begin 2 April 2014 (every Wednesday and Sunday), the Heraklion-Edinburgh route as of 1 April 2014 (every Tuesday and Saturday) and the Kos-Glasgow route as of 5 April (every Tuesday and Saturday).

easyJet will launch two more routes to Greece in summer 2014: Mykonos-Naples (as of 1 July 2014, every Tuesday and Friday) and Corfu-Naples (as of 2 July 2014, every Wednesday and Sunday).

Costs vary by route and start as low as 27 Euro.

In the last year, the airline transferred 1.7 million passengers on 55 routes to/from Greece.

Today, it offers a network of 60 destinations to/from Greece and expects to carry some 2 million passengers in 2014 and contribute 2,000 job positions to the local tourism industry.

November 28, 2013

SAS: New Routes to Greece Added
SAS Scandinavian Airlines announced its summer 2014 timetable that includes flights to Chania, Crete and Athens in Greece.

According to the timetable for summer 2014, SAS will launch a flight to Chania from Stockholm from 24 June to 14 August. Other routes to Greece include Gothenburg-Athens (1 July-5 August) and Denmark-Chania (30 June-11 August).

November 28, 2013

Japonica Partners Gives Greece A+
Japonica Partners, a U.S.-based entrepreneurial investment firm that makes concentrated investments in underperforming global special situations, and which recently completed a tender offer for the purchase of Greek state bonds, on November 26 underlined the investment interest of Greece. In a full-page open letter in major publications around the world, the investment firm called policy makers in Athens, Brussels, Frankfurt and Washington DC to take actions towards upgrading the country’s rating.

The open letter states “that it is an irrefutable fact that Greece has accomplished one of history's most extraordinary sovereign fiscal rejuvenations, an A+ performance. Now is the time to progress beyond the current economically irrational and anachronistic accounting that obfuscates that Greece merits an A+ credit rating and government bond interest costs below 5%. Now is the time to recognize that this accounting is the single biggest and most easily removed obstacle to extraordinary growth in Greece. And, now is the time for public policy makers to expeditiously advocate accounting as well as presentation that reflects economic reality, improves decision-making, and increases accountability.”

Greece has advanced to 1st place from last place in only five years on two of the most important fiscal performance indicators, an accomplishment that most believed was impossible. Greece is now ready to repeat its extraordinary performance with extraordinary growth. Greece is ranked 1st place among the European Union's 27 reporting members on the European Commission structural balance as a percent of GDP for 2013 from last place in 2009. To put this in perspective, Greece is moving ahead of world-class Sweden with a 2013 structural surplus of 1.2% of GDP compared to Sweden's 0.5% of GDP. Greece is also ranked 1st place among the world's 30 advanced economies on the International Monetary Fund primary balance (cyclically adjusted) as a percent of GDP for 2014 from last place in 2009. To put this in perspective, Greece is moving ahead of world-class Singapore with a 2014 primary surplus (cyclically adjusted) of 5.4% of GDP compared to Singapore's 3.3% of GDP.

November 27, 2013

Moody’s Upgrades Greece
Moody's credit rating agency upgraded Greece's government bond rating to Caa3 from C on November 29, with a stable outlook.

In an announcement, it said that the short-term ratings remained Not Prime (NP). Among the reasons for the upgrade, Moody's Investors Service cited "the significant fiscal consolidation that has taken place under Greece's structural adjustment programme despite low growth and political uncertainty," and assessed that "the government will achieve (and possibly outperform) its target of a primary balance in 2013, and record a surplus in 2014 in accordance with the adjustment programme."

Other reasons included improvement in Greece's medium-term economic outlook supported by a cyclical recovery in the economy; progress made in implementing structural reforms and rebalancing the economy; and the significant reduction of the government's interest burden following previous restructurings and official sector repayment assistance.

"The key drivers taken together reduce the likelihood of further Private Sector Involvement (PSI) being undertaken as a condition for further financing," it said, adding, "Concurrently, Moody's has today raised the local and foreign-currency ceiling of Greece to B3 from Caa2.”

Greece had been assessed with a C rating in May 2012.

December 2, 2013
(Source: ANA)

New Greek Tourism Office in Istanbul
Greek Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni and Turkish EU Minister Egemen Bağış met at a reception on November 27 to open a new Greek tourism office in Istanbul.

According to Hurriyet Daily, prominent names from the two countries, including Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew and Greek Mayors, attended the event, which was hosted by Minister Kefalogianni and the head of Greece’s tourism office, Panos Leivadas, at the Greek Consulate in Istanbul.

Renowned Greek chefs Lefteris Lazarou and Stelios Parliaros promoted Greek cuisine during the event, which is being seen as a new starting point in Greek-Turkish tourism relations.
November 29, 2013