President Papoulias urges creation of 'spherical' free trade zone with Ukraine

Greek President Karolos Papoulias on Friday said that the creation of a "spherical free trade zone" with the Ukraine will enhance the trade relations between the two countries, addressing a business conference at the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) held in the context of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's state visit to Athens.

    Delegates at the conference spoke of large margins for further deepening and also expansion of Greek-Hungarian relations.

    Many Greek companies, with experience from the organisation of the 2004 Olympic Games in Greece, are prepared to assist Ukraine in its co-organisation, together with Poland, of the European Football Championships in 2012, Papoulias said.

    He also said that the value of Greek capital invested in Ukraine, approximately 700 million dollars, coupled by a substantial Greek presence with four Greek banks on the Ukrainian market and the placement of Greek capital in business activities such as glassworks, renewable energy sources, construction material and shipping were "encouraging for the further course of Greek-Ukrainian commercial transactions".

    The President further noted the prospects arising in the field of tourism, despite the adverse conditions.

    Yanukovych, in turn, underlined Ukraine's interest in the development of renewable energy sources (RES) activities, and particularly noted the two major RES projects (aeolic energy park and photovoltaic park) being constructed in Crimea, saying that with the knowhow being employed there a similar electricity production park could also be built in Greece.

    Further cooperation prospects also exist in dynamic sectors such as shipping, construction, construction materials, medicines, healthcare, education, the environment, high technology, transports, agricultural products, industrial equipment, financial services, RES, real estate and other sectors, he added, while stressing that the construction of pipelines from the Ukraine to Europe would boost energy sufficiency and noting that Ukraine wants the Greek banks to maintain their role in this specific market.

    Yanukovych also said that 2011 will be a very good year for wheat production in the Ukraine, which is expected to exceed 50 million tons.

    Concluding, he made note of the modernisation framework being created in Ukraine so that the country may also take a place among the new countries with dynamic economies.

    EBEA president Costas Michalos said that the increase in bilateral commercial transactions of the past year appears to be continuing this year as well, with a 17.7 percent increase in Greek exports to Ukraine in the first half of 2011 against the same period in 2010, reaching 32.5 million euros. Greek imports from the Ukraine also rose by 6 percent in the same period, reaching 104.5 million euros.

    A primary role in this positive course is held today by such sectors as transports, distribution, energy conservation technologies, consumer goods, high technology products, mobile telephony and tourism, he said, adding that in the services sector in particular, the trade balance posted a 1 million euros surplus for Greece in 2010, spearheaded by the travel industry.

    Greece further has a substantial investment presence in the Ukraine, with 45 Greek companies active on the Ukrainian market, while overall Greek direct investments in the Ukraine reached 328 million euros in 2010.


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