Περιοδική έκδοση

Newsletter Δεκέμβριος 2009

NEWSWIRE

China’s COSCO Begins Operation of Port Terminals

The Piraeus Port Authority transferred the operation of Piraeus container terminals to China's COSCO Pacific Ltd.

Beginning October 1, 2009, Pier 2 and Pier 3 of Piraeus Container Terminals are under COSCO management for 35 years, according to the agreement.

Representatives of COSCO in Greece said the two sides would work together to build modern container terminals and provide reliable, flexible and high efficient services for shipping companies.

Piraeus is the biggest port in Greece and one of the most important ports in the Eastern Mediterranean region.

Its handling capacity reached 1.37 million TEUs (Twenty Foot Equivalent Unit) in 2007.

Piraeus Port could become an important hub for Chinese goods on the way to the EU markets and to the broader region of Southeast Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. The agreement will bring Greece €4.3 billion in revenue over the 35-year period and create about 1,000 new jobs.

October 1, 2009
Source: Greek News Agenda, Secretariat General of Communication and Information

Lonely Planet Ranks Greece in Top Tourist Destinations

Lonely Planet, the publisher of travel and tourism guidebooks, ranks Greece in 3rd place as a tourist destination within its "Top Countries" category, in its Best in Travel 2010 guide. The guide is the travel company's fifth in its annual collection of the best places to go and best things to do in the year ahead.

November 2, 2009
Source: Greek News Agenda, Secretariat General of Communication and Information

Greece Maintains Leading Position in Shipping

According to a report published by Greece's Alpha Bank, the Greek commercial fleet maintained its leading world position, despite the international credit crunch, in the shipping sector. The report notes that the Greek-owned fleet accounted for the 15.2% of global capacity for vessels over 1000 dead-weight tons (dwt) in February, 2009 The total capacity of the Greek-owned commercial fleet is 263.6 million dwt, with 4,161 vessels. The average age of the ships carrying the Greek flag is 11.9 years, compared to the global average, which is 12.9 years.

November 2, 2009

Source: Greek News Agenda, Secretariat General of Communication and Information

IT Competitiveness Up

Greece further improved its position in the global Competitiveness Index in the IT sector, climbing to the 32nd position in 2009, from 33rd in 2008, according to a report by Economist Intelligence Unit, sponsored by Business Software Alliance (BSA).

The report said that Greece ranked second globally in the development of mobile telephony (171 percent), with the UAE first (173 percent). The report, conducted for the third consecutive year, assesses and compares the IT sector in 66 countries. "The current economic conjuncture imposes the support of the technological sector," Katerina Galanopoulou, a member of BSA's commission in Greece said. "Technology can contribute to economic recovery and lead to long-term economic growth, she said. Greece also ranked high in the human capital category, at 15th.

Greece Climbs 24 Places on Global FDI Ranking in 2008

Greece’s position on an international listing that ranks countries on foreign direct investment (FDI) improved more than 20 places.

Data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development showed that Greece moved to position 49 in 2008 from 73 in 2007.
In 2008, $5.1 billion in FDI poured into the country versus $1.7 billion in 2007.

FDI from Greek companies expanding abroad reached $2.6 billion, some 50 percent lower than 2007 levels.

Solar Capacity Doubles

The installed capacity of solar energy systems in Greece more than doubled within first seven months of 2009, according to the Centre for Renewable Energy Sources (CRES), largely because of legislative initiatives of recent years aimed at boosting the market’s development. The cost of solar panels has fallen over 35% within the last year.

September 9, 2009
Source: Greek News Agenda, The Secretariat General of Communication and Information

40% Broadband Growth

Broadband Internet penetration in Greece reached 15.6% of the population at the end of June, increasing by 40.7% from the same period last year, as the sector shows resilience to the economic downturn, according to the Observatory for the Greek Information Society.

During the first half of the year, more than 41,000 new connections were made every month, which makes convergence with EU averages possible by 2010.

The demand in the first half of the year did not appear to be influenced by economic uncertainty, as aggressive pricing policy moves on the part of Internet service providers have sustained customer interest.

Furthermore, prospects for the second half of 2009 continue to be favourable, and the foreseeable rate at the end of the year is predicted to reach 17 to 17.8%.

August 26, 2009
Source: Greek News Agenda, Secretariat General of Communication and Information

New Energy Unit

Public Power Corp. (PPC), Greece’s power utility awarded a project to build a new production unit in Megalopoli to a consortium led by METKA S.A. and ETADE S.A., at a value of 500 million Euro.

Under the plan, METKA and ETADE will build a 811 MW natgas-fired power plant in Megalopoli, a town in the central Peloponnese that already hosts other PPC units.

First Robotic Thyroid Excision

The first thyroid excision in Greece and Europe, with the system of robot Da Vinci surgery, was carried out on a 25-year-old woman patient at the Igia Hospital in Athens.

The technique allows for the creation of a very small incision in the region of the armpit that extends progressively, creating a "tunnel" up to the neck and the thyroid. The technique is applicable in cases of early stage thyroid cancer.

The method's advantages include the precision of moves, better visual coverage, almost nonexistent loss of blood and a decrease in complications.

Greece and Canada Sign Double Taxation Agreement

Greece and Canada signed a convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital.

The main purpose of the tax treaty is to reduce tax barriers to trade and investment. It will ensure Canadian and Greek taxpayers who invest or do business in each other’s countries are able to obtain relief from double taxation. The agreement will facilitate a greater Canadian economic presence in Greece through increased trade and investment opportunities. It will also keep Canada competitive with other countries that have double taxation conventions with Greece.

“Canada is honoured to sign this convention with Greece and will work diligently to ensure that it is implemented and ratified as soon as possible,” said Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon. “The current global and financial downturn calls for the lifting of barriers on trade and investment. This tax treaty does just that and will benefit both the Canadian and Greek economies.”

This bilateral agreement is now the most important form of economic cooperation between Canada and Greece and it is expected to work as an incentive towards further improving economic and trade relations, according to a statement by the Greek Foreign Ministry.

PANDORA Team Improves Rescue Robot

A team of researchers from Thessaloniki University's Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering department announced further improvements to a search-and-rescue robot capable of remotely locating survivors of natural disasters without the assistance of human operators.

The new version is an improvement on a previous design developed as part of the PANDORA project and employs improved motor skills and sensors that give the robot a more accurate sense of space.

"The robot can locate survivors with great accuracy and safety because it has artificial intelligence algorithms that give it greater and better navigation and movement capabilities," said Professor Loukas Petrou, who is in charge of the project.

The robot has been equipped with sensors that detect levels of carbon dioxide, temperature, sounds and it can recognise faces and movements.

The team has also developed a second robot possessing an arm capable of reaching victims and moving in a complex environment.

World First: Fatty Tissue Stem Cell Transplant
 

A pioneering transplant of stem cells from fatty tissue to the lung of a 65-year-old patient suffering from pulmonary fibrosis, the world's first such operation, took place at the Alexandroupolis University Hospital's Pulmonary Clinic with a bronchoscopy procedure and only local anaesthesia, and required just 10 minutes. The patient, who had been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis 2 1/2 years ago, underwent liposuction three months prior to the operation to isolate stem cells from the fatty tissue removed. Following a required quality check by the National Research Foundation's Primordial Cells Bank, a portion of the stem cells was administered to the patient intravenously. Three months after the first administration, the patient's condition had stabilised, while a marginal improvement was also recorded, Thrace's Democritus University pulmonology professor Dr. Demosthenes Bouros said. Professor Bouros said in order to achieve better results, the patient was administered the stem cells a second time, again via bronchoscopy, this time directly into the patient's lung.
The doctorexplained that the first administration was carried out intravenously because that was the only known procedure at that time. But the surgeons at the Alexandroupolis University Hospital decided to conduct the second administration directly into lung, for the first time in the world, in order to achieve better results. The patient left for his home in Athens after the second procedure, and further results of the surgery are expected over the next six months.

Some five million people worldwide are afflicted with pulmonary fibrosis, the prognosis for which is death within 3-5 years, similar to that for lung cancer. Patients die either from the disease itself, which causes respiratory deficiency and failure, or from related complications such as pulmonary hypertension, bacterial infections and lung cancer. The cause of the disease, which induces progressive scarring of lung tissue, is unknown, although risk factors include smoking, gastroesophageal reflux, various viral infections, and exposure to chemical substances, dust, and heavy metals.