The approximately 25 billion euros that were lost on the market due to the crisis can be regained through the materialisation of a national plan that will mobilise six specific sources of developmental momentum and healthy entrepreneurship, Greek Regional Development and Competitiveness minister Michalis Chrysohoidis said on Wednesday, addressing the first Greek-Chinese Entrepreneurship Conference.
Those six sectors are exports, privatisations, foreign investments, targeted utilisation of EU resources, increasing production for domestic consumption, and clamping down on the black economy, Chrysohoidis told the conference, which is jointly organised by the IOBE Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research and the Business Confucius Institute (BCI) in Athens.
The minister said that it is possible to achieve growth of the Greek economy in the next 30 months through coordinated practices and without external borrowing, and announced that an institutional framework that will be "revolutionary", for Europe, is currently being drafted.
The framework, he continued, will facilitate entrepreneurship in Greece by removing 70 bureaucratic obstacles. "It is a national action plan comparable to the plan for a viable economy carried out by the Spanish government over the past two years," he explained.
The crisis, he said, is not above Greece's abilities, adding that "now is not the time for conservative battles or for battles that place the collective economic prospect beneath the short-term benefits".
He called on the business world to mobilise, noting that "they (businessmen) can and must prove that ways exist to withstand the crisis", adding that the government would be at their side in this effort, pointing out the prospects of the new investment law, the new National Fund for Business and Development (ETEAN), and also other financing tools such as the EU's JEREMIE (Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises) initiative, and the emphasis being placed on the development of exports, while he also announced that a re-orientation of the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) will also be announced shortly.
"We are at the side of the entrepreneur and making the impossible possible," the minister continued, noting that today (Tuesday) is the deadline for the tender for the selection of the banks of the first ETEAN. As of the first half of July, loans with auspicious interest rates will be available to small and medium size enterprises, both those that have been incorporated in the investment law and those that desire to invest in exports, manufacturing, tourism, foods and renewable energy sources (RES), he added.
Chrysohoidis further stressed that the new conditions demand a change of model and change of attitude in the banking sector as well in order to boost, with realism and strategy, the Greek business with new financing tools.
"In times of prosperity, the Greek banks did not dare. Today, change and smart adjustment is the only way both for their own survival and for the survival of the thousands of healthy businesses that have need of support. I realise the difficulties faced by the Greek banks, but we cannot let the developments exceed us," the minister stressed.
The ambassador of the People’s Republic of China in Greece, Luo Linquan, noted that substantial margins exist for further development of commercial transactions between the two countries, and cited Cosco and Folli-Follie as "successful business examples" that, in the coming years, could develop up to 4,000 shops in China.
He further said that room also exists for expanding and further developing business collaborations between the two countries, stressing that trade between the two countries could feasibly reach 8 billion dollars in the next five years, as per the target that has been set out.
Representatives of the Greek banking and business sectors described Greece as a "gateway to the Balkans" and a "new silk road", addressing the first Hellenic-Chinese Business Partnering Conference" taking place in Athens on Tuesday.
IOBE Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research general director Ioannis Stournaras noted the structural difficulties of the Greek economy, and called for consensus "on a minimum platform of reforms" for the country's exist from the crisis, while adding that the governance problems in the eurozone were burdening the problem faced by Greece.
Eurobank CEO Constantine Vousvounis said that what was important at this time was for the country's leadership to fully shoulder its responsibilities and work for the restoration of "dual confidence", in other words to inspire confidence in the citizens on the ability to reverse the downward course of the country and also inspire confidence in Greece's EU partners and creditors that the country will comply with its obligations.
This dual goal can be achieved only in the context of an economy focused on performance rather than on acquis.
He further said that the Greek banking system is not "operating in a void", but was in a stage of re-design. He said that Chinese investment interested has been expressed for investments in Greece which could evolve into "a new silk road", and noted the importance of the regional role played by Greek banks.
Alpha Bank economic research division manager Michael Massourakis, said that protectionism had prevailed in the Greek economy, with the exception of shipping, adding that the real estate and tourism sectors could serve as the steam engine for development.
Titan managing director Dimitris Papalexopoulos said that apart from the Greek companies that have already expanded their activities to the Balkans, there are also major companies with an international orientation that use Greece for access to the Balkan market.
Prof. Huo Jian Guo, general director of China's ministry of commerce, outlined the situation in the Chinese economy, noting that the country was at a high level of growth, holding second place worldwide.
He said the Chinese economy was on a developmental course, and would continue at the same rate over the coming years while, on commercial relations with Europe, he said that China's foreign trade with the EU reached 479.7 billion dollars in 2010, accounting for 16.2 percent of China's overall external trade.
As for European investments in China in the same period, he said the rate of growth was 20 percent, with 32,000 investment programs totaling 70.1 billion dollars already running, while Chinese investments in France, Germany, the UK and Italy were also noting large growth rates.
Beijing San Yuan Dairy Company vice- president Ma Guowu said the Group holds a substantial proportion of agriculture with the development of new technologies and the largest proportion of animal breeding (pigs and Peking ducks), was listed on the stock exchange, and was an integrated production chain from the field to the end consumer.
The Group, he added, aims to promote Greek olive oil on the Chinese market.
The opportunities for investments in new technologies, particularly in telecoms, on the Greek market were outlined by Prof. Yan Zhuang, dean of the EMBA School of Beijing University.
The conference is jointly organised by the IOBE Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research and the Business Confucius Institute (BCI) in Athens.