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Newsletter December 2013


Prime Minister Meets U.S. Commerce Secretary Pritzker

In a sign of global interest in the Greek economy, the Secretary of Commerce recently held high level talks in Athens. Greece now has a stable economy producing tangible results, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on November 21 after a meeting in Athens with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, who is visiting Greece and Germany.

Mr. Samaras said it was the first time Greece had a primary surplus, a surplus in the balance of payments, and zero deficit in the trade balance. "These tangible results, along with the anticipation of Greece's entering a period of recovery after six painful recession years, are bringing forth significant investment opportunities for Greece."

The Premier said the two discussed the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), between the United States and the European Union, which will become an object of negotiation between the two continents during the Greek presidency of the EU, beginning with the new year.

Secreatary Pritzker said that both she and U.S. President Barack Obama are aware that Mr. Samaras has taken, and will continue to take, tough decisions to keep Greece on the path of infrastructural and structural changes in an effort to promote growth and general economic well-being. She stated that Greece should not focus on cutbacks alone, but on steps promoting growth, jobs, trade and entrepreneurship, which would benefit all Greeks.

"Greece has taken important steps but a lot remains to be done," she noted. "Greeks have covered a large part of a tough road to give up their efforts now," she said.

President Papoulias in Korea
President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias repeated his invitation to Korean businesspeople to invest in Greece on December 3 during an official dinner given in his honour by South Korea's President Park Geun-hye at the presidential mansion in Seoul.

Mr. Papoulias, on an official visit to South Korea, stressed that Greece had always shown solidarity with S. Korea in times of difficulty, referring to Greece's contribution to the Korean war six decades earlier, and emphasised Greece's comparative advantages as an investment destination.

"I am sorry to say that the investment presence of the Republic of Korea in Greece is at very low levels, while imports of Greek products are also low. Greece is a gateway to Europe, to Asia and Africa. Its geostrategic position is being reinforced by the new situation concerning energy in the area. The structural changes taking place in Greece have significantly changed the business environment and created opportunities for international cooperation," the Greek President underlined.

President Papoulias went on to express hope that the signature of a memorandum of understanding between the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) and the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) will give new momentum in this area. The President also expressed hope that Greece will see an increase in arrivals of Korean tourists.

Highlighting Greece's geopolitical and economic role as a reliable factor for stability in the eastern Mediterranean, President Papoulias said this was confirmed by a decision to conduct hydrocarbon exploration in Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) by the Korea Gas Corporation (KOGAS).

"Here I would like to stress that Greece is determined to exploit its undersea wealth and proceed with the collaborations necessary for this goal," he said.

Invest in Greece in Korea, Japan
Invest in Greece CEO Stephanos Issaias participated in the official visit to Korea by the President of the Hellenic Republic. Mr. Issaias, jointly with Greece’s Corallia Cluster, held business meetings with leading companies from Korea’s ICT sector. He also met with executives of banks and other leading companies of the Korean market.
Following the visit to Korea, Mr. Issaias visited Japan, where he presented the significant progress of the Greek economy over the past year, the sweeping structural reforms and the vast investment opportunities in Greece, at an investment seminar, organised in partnership with the Greek Embassy in Tokyo. Representatives from more than 18 leading Japanese companies, from a wide range of sectors, participated. Mr Issaias also held a series of business meetings with representatives from banks, companies, and business associations.

Invest in Greece at COIF Fair
Invest in Greece Agency, responding to the increasing interest of Chinese companies in the Greek economy, participated with a booth at the 5th China Overseas Investment Fair (COIF Fair) 2013. During the Fair, Invest in Greece executives discussed with Chinese businesspeople recent developments in the Greek economy, and ongoing reforms in the institutional framework regarding the starting of a new business. They also presented the wide range of investment opportunities in energy, tourism, ICT, and other sectors, as well as opportunities through Greece’s privatisation programme. 
The presence of China’s COSCO in Greece, as well as the recent decisions by ZTE and Huawei of China to invest in Greece, are a significant point of attraction for Chinese investors. Chinese businesspeople areshowing interest in the residence permit incentive via the purchase of real estate in Greece. This is in line with the trend of recent years where buyers from China are investing in second homes in Europe.
Greece’s strategic location in the wider southeast European region was highlighted at the Fair as was the competitive and high calibre human capital of the country. For the Chinese market, Greece is now a recognised and attractive investment and tourist destination.