Thursday, 17 September 2020

Gr. Dimitriadis address at 24th Economist


Gr. Dimitriadis address at 24th Economist

Significantly differentiated from the recent past is the image foreign investors have of Greece as business location, which in turn multiplies our expectations for attracting investment into the country. Among other things, in recent research, it is indicated that foreign investors now overwhelmingly recognize the government's efforts to render the country an attractive investment destination, noted the Chairman of Enterprise Greece and Secretary General for International Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Gregory Dimitriadis, speaking at the Economist conference.

Referring to the important role that Enterprise Greece plays, both in foreign investment and in exports, Mr. Dimitriadis said that the agency is the main implementation arm of the country’s National Strategy in these areas and noted the excellent cooperation with the Ministry of Development and Investments, as well as the business community. He also discussed current and forthcoming investments, expressing his optimism that the set objectives will be achieved, despite the difficulties that the pandemic has de facto created.

View the video here : 

The full text of Mr Dimitriadis' speech:

Ladies and gentlemen,

Distinguished guests,

It’s an honor to be here today.

We discuss about the prospects and challenges for the Greek economy.

We are currently in the midst of a pandemic. All crises, whether economic or health-related - test our economies but also our democracies and communities.

The COVID-19 crisis confronted us with dilemmas and crucial choices. We had to act quickly, drastically and often with only a few or even no data at all.

We had to decide on strict restrictions unprecedented for our democratic societies, in order to protect human life. The impact on the Greek economy was significant although less than the EU average for the time being.

However, I would like to emphasize this:

During the Greek Government’s fight against COVID-19, in my effort to procure the necessary medical materials for our healthcare system, I realized the importance of universal values.

And, I have to say, I am optimistic for the future.

As long as we strengthen international cooperation and establish peaceful relations among nations, solidarity will always prevail.

I am also optimistic about the position of Greece in today’s world.

We have proven to be quick, focused and efficient.

We worked together as a team and I have seen a new confidence in our public administration.

This is a hard lesson, but a lesson learned.

Our determination for the future of our country is clear, and proven.

I am happy to be here, today, with Mr. Nikos Papathanasis, Alternate Minister of Development & Investment.

We have worked together before. We are both realists.

We know that Greece is lagging behind.

Our exports of goods and services, in 2018, were 38% of GDP while the EU (28) average was 48%. In particular, exports of goods stood at 18% of GDP compared to 34,5% EU average.

At the same time, Greece is at the last position in the FDI stock inward among EU member states (16% of GDP for the 2015-2019 period, in 2019, according to Eurostat while EU average is 60%).

We have a long way to go…

However, we are determined to follow the challenging path of reform!

The Greek government today, tries to step up its reform efforts and streamline the legislative framework.

Just to give you a few highlights of our progress.

A €1 billion project has begun, to connect the island of Crete with the mainland through a high-capacity underwater power cable.

Next month, Greece will begin the privatization of the port of Alexandroupolis, which is developing into a regional energy and transportation hub. Near the port there are plans for a €400 million natural gas facility, a new pipeline to Bulgaria, and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline.

On a smaller scale, Accenture and Imerys both relocated part of their accounting departments to Greece.

ELPEN, active in the pharma industry, is planning to establish a new 50m Euros R&D facility.

The government proceeds with the digitization of its services, and implements a strategy – including through Enterprise Greece that I represent today-- to upgrade IT skills in the public sector.

For example, Enterprise Greece has just launched a new collaboration with eBay which allows Greek exporters to have a dedicated presence in the platform, in the form of a shop within a shop.

There is also, growing foreign interest in Greece’s tech sector.

U.S. tech giants Applied Materials and Microsoft have acquired two Greek tech companies for 30m and 100mEuros respectively. Cisco is also progressing with a 12minvestment for an Innovation Center in Thessaloniki to develop technologies for smart cities as well as the Internet of Things (IoT), Pfizer has chosen Greece for the creation of one of its six digital laboratories aimed at capitalizing on technologies such as artificial intelligence and big data analytics for the development of new treatments, while Ernst & Younghas decided to increase their footprint in Greece by expanding their facilities.

In fact, the recent EY Attractiveness survey suggests that15% of FDI into Greece over the last three years was directed to the technology sector.

The same survey shows that foreign investors have a positive view on Greece.

Seven in ten respondents think Greece will become an even more attractive place to invest in the next three years – far more than in any other European country.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In closing I want to say that we have drafted a comprehensive National Strategy on Trade and Investment Promotion which we already implement.

We are fully aligned with our colleagues from the Ministry of Development who have the primary responsibility for investments. Our role is to communicate opportunities, facilitate the business community and share feedback back to the Ministry of Development.

Enterprise Greece will be the main implementation instrument for our new strategy. This new initiative builds upon the success of previous positive examples of collaboration between Enterprise Greece and MFA.Recently we organized two very successful investment conferences with the UAE Government, where we were able to capitalize on the expertise of both Enterprise Greece and MFA by drawing on their respective strengths.

So, we are honest, we are vigilant, we are pressing ahead, and … we mean business!

Thank you.