Multinationals offer vote of confidence to Greek economy

Multinational group executives on Tuesday offered a vote of confidence to the Greek economy expressing their intention to maintain their investments and to seek new investment activities in Greece, during an event organized by the Dutch-Hellenic Federation of Commerce and Industry in Athens.   A report by Boston Consulting Group, presented during the event, showed that Greece has significant competitive advantages and could become attractive despite problems with bureaucracy, the tax system and a lack of business flexibility and innovation facing the business activity in the country. Spyros Desyllas, chairman and chief executive of Elais-Unilever, addressing the event said the crisis has an expiry date and added that although more could have been done in the past few months, development moves have been made that have not been made for decades. Companies willing to invest in Greece will not come for a period of 2-3 years, but they are creating the necessary infrastructure for a multi-year activity, underling that “the crisis is an opportunity”.

    The rate of foreign direct investments to Greece in the period 2004-2010 accounted for 1.0 pct of GDP, down from an average 27 pct in the EU-27, 2.0 pct in Spain, Portugal and Italy and 8.1 pct in Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria.

    V. Antoniadis, chief executive of BCG, presented the examples of state which faced administrative problems but managed to overcome difficulties and to attract investments. He said that a tourism investment, worth 1.0 billion euros, in Prasonisi (Rhodes), including four and five star hotels, casino, conference centre, spa and sport facilities could create 4,000 job positions and a turnover of 200 million euros annually, or 0.1 pct of GDP, both during the construction and operation periods. “Maintaining existing foreign direct investments and attracting new ones is a one-way road for the recovery of the economy,” Antoniadis said.

    The survey by Boston Consulting Group recommended 20 changes towards creating a friendlier business environment, based on combating bureaucracy, flexibility in labour markets, swift judiciary procedures, improving tax collection, eliminating corruption, modernizing education systems (maritime education) and promoting cooperation and attracting foreign universities.

    The survey said that Greece’s competitive advantages were mainly in the fields of tourism, food and beverage industry, constructions, infrastructure, shipping, farming, healthcare, culture, education and renewable energy sources.

    Development Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis, addressing the event expressed his optimism that all administrative hurdles in business activity would be abolished by the end of the year and presented an agreement reached between the European Commission, the European Investment Bank and Greek authorities over promoting a series of actions aimed at boosting liquidity in the real economy.

    The Dutch ambassador to Greece, Van Ray, expressed his government’s commitment to support Greek efforts to revive its economy by offering expertise and know-how.

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