Monday, 1 December 2014

Promoting Foreign Direct Investments


Promoting Foreign Direct Investments

JEDDAH — The Greek Deputy Minister of Development and Competitiveness recently visited Riyadh in an effort to promote Foreign Direct Investment and export trade between his country and the Kingdom.

Notis Mytarakis had meetings with several ministers in Riyadh, during which he also discussed the organization of the first Joint Ministerial Committee between the two states since 1999, to be held in April 2015 in Athens and which will be accompanied by a business delegation and forum.

The Greek deputy minister was accompanied by a delegation of Greek businessmen and Stephanos Issaias, CEO of Enterprise Greece Invest and Trade S.A., the state’s official agency that under the supervision of the Ministry of Development and Competitiveness works to promote and support Greece’s investment opportunities and export trade.

Issaias and the Greek businessmen then proceeded to Jeddah, where they met with prominent Saudi companies and businesspeople.

“We visited the Kingdom in order to report on the tremendous progress that Greece has made both on the fiscal consolidation front but at the structural front as well,” explained Issaias the visit during a business dinner held here at the Hilton Hotel, which was attended by numerous Greek and Saudi businesspeople.

“The political relationship (between the Kingdom and Greece) has always been very good. In the last few decades the business relation was not at par, and this is what we try to reignite.”

During his speech, Issaias made the case that Greece was “en route to become a great turnaround story” now that the fundamentals of the economy had improved vastly.

According to the Invest in Greece Agency, which is part of Greece Enterprise, the Mediterranean country achieved an annual rate of fiscal consolidation of 4.4 percent, the highest in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries over the last few decades.

Apart from this, Greece has turned its government deficits into surpluses, and after 27 consecutive quarters of contraction of the economy the country moved into positive territory, Issaias continued, underpinning his argument that now is the time to invest in his country.

“The latest figures of Q3 of 2014 say that Greece is the champion of growth among the European countries, with 0.7 percent,” the CEO stated, adding that on a year-on-year basis, this growth was estimated at 1.4 percent.

The growth of the Greek economy is likely to sustain, as the reforms are transforming the country from an economy based on consumption to one based on exports and investments, Issaias said.

A “fairly big chunk of investors have already realized” the promising outlook of the Greek economy, the CEO of Enterprise Greece said, and have already invested in the country.

 “We see some repeat customers,” Issaias demonstrated the satisfaction of investors, adding he hoped the visit to Saudi Arabia would encourage more businesses to invest in Greece.

“We have even reached the stage where we have what I call ‘patient money,’ meaning investors who are getting into a company or buying the company; they are there to stay for the years to come,” illustrated Issaias the progress of foreign direct investment in his country, following the arrival of financial investors, portfolio investors, and private equity firms.

This also shows the stability of the country’s economy, according to Issaias. “Greece has already dealt with the crisis; it has already paid the price. Our banks are recapitalized – the stress tests have proven that – so for Greece the only way is upward.”

The most painful aspect of the crisis, he admitted, is unemployment, which last year skyrocketed at 27.9 percent. “Right now, it has dropped to 25.9 (percent); it’s still extremely high. It’s even worse among youth: 52 percent,” Issaias said.

However, the Enterprise Greece CEO praised the Greek people for the remarkable maturity with which they reacted to this and reaffirmed that structural changes, economic activity, and investment were the only way forward. “These will produce jobs. There is no other recipe.”

Issaias added that his country needed to make those people that are already investing in the country its ambassadors, encouraging other businesspeople to follow suit.