Greece: Delivering Results
Investment and Business Opportunities in Greece Today
The 9th New York Forum, organised under the auspices of Greece’s Ministry of Economy and Finance, and held at the Pierre Hotel on November 9 by Capital Link, brought together representatives from the Greek government, Greece’s public and private sector, and businesspeople and investors from the United States to explore the many investment opportunities that Greece offers today.
The keynote speech was delivered by Minister of Economy and Finance Mr. George Alogoskoufis. Information Secretary General Panos Livadas provided a broad overview of the Greek economy. Dr. Dimitrios Pazaitis, CEO of the Hellenic Centre for Investment, presented the main address on investing in Greece.
In his remarks, the Greek Minister said "Our administration is determined to continue following the successful course of action it has been following over the past three and half years. We shall continue promoting reforms in order to safeguard the future performance of our economy. It is our primary objective to achieve balanced budgets by 2010. Moreover, our immediate objectives include the reform of the pension system and to improve the efficiency of the public sector".
“Greece is developing in an outward-looking manner, and through the implementation of bold reforms has already achieved impressive results. The Greek economy has entered a new era.”“Fiscal consolidation has progressed successfully. We have managed to reduce the budget deficit from 8% in 2004 to less than 3% in 2006 and 2007. As a result, the public debt is on a steadily declining path. It has fallen from 108.5% of GDP in 2004 to 101.9% of GDP this year.
Growth is dynamic as a result of:
- lower corporate tax rates that have been reduced from 35% in 2004 to 25% as of this year
- generous investment incentives that can reach up to 60% of an investment project
- a well targeted policy for the promotion of exports
- the reduction of bureaucratic procedures
- the substantial acceleration of the projects funded by the European Union—these projects are essential to achieve convergence with the European Union, essential to modernise our infrastructure and improve the competitiveness of our economy.”
Information Secretary General Panos Livadas outlined the prospects of the Greek economy, and the "improved image" of Greece. Mr. Livadas outlined developments regarding economic growth, and referred to merchant shipping in particular, saying “Greece has maximised its distinct advantage in merchant shipping and the shipping industry, with significant financial results." Greece, he added, is a reliable economic and business centre and is a major foreign investor in Albania and FYROM, and ranks among the top three foreign investors in Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia.
Dr. Pazaitis, the CEO of ELKE, discussed Greece’s unique value proposition, provided examples of current business opportunities, and outlined the services of the Hellenic Centre for Investment.
Dr. Pazaitis highlighted the geographic advantage that Greece enjoys in Southeast Europe and its leading position in the regional economy. With access to the emerging markets of Southeast Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, and strong cultural and business ties in the entire region, Greece is strategically located. More than 3,300 Greek companies operate in the region (more than 2,000 branches of Greek banks operate), the country has a strong maritime and shipping hub with a large fleet, and is fast becoming an energy hub, especially for the transport of oil and natural gas.
Greece enjoys high economic growth, is moving forward with massive infrastructure developments, is reducing its taxation rates significantly, privatising industries, and has introduced a successful PPP programme.
The investment climate in Greece is highly favourable, with cash grants of up to 60% of overall investment cost, tax breaks of up to 100% of overall investment cost, and additional subsidies for priority sectors and industries. In 2006, FDI net flows were 4.3 billion EURO, nine times greater than 2005.
At present, more than 35 project with a value higher than 1 billion dollars are underway in: leisure and entertainment, financial services, business services, communications, software and IT services, hotels and tourism, textiles, real estate, food and tobacco, consumer products, beverages, biotechnology, semiconductors, warehousing and storage.
Dr. Pazaitis noted that investment opportunities are particularly attractive in a number of areas:
Tourism and Real Estate
Golf Resorts and Spas
Commercial Real Estate
Leisure and Entertainment
Renewable Energy Sources
Infrastructure and Environment
Water and Waste Management
Intermodal Hub/Warehouse Development
3PL Integrated Services
In concluding, Dr. Pazaitis emphasised that the Hellenic Centre for Investment is made up of investor-centred professionals who provide investors with comprehensive assistance, analysis, advice, and aftercare.
More than 600 delegates attended the Forum, one of the main venues in the United States focused on the Greek economy.