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Greece’s economic future will be judged outside of its borders

by Spyros Ktenas

At a time when the country and its citizens are agonizing about the developments in our neighbourhood (Turkish aggression in the Aegean and northern Syria, NATO pressures to resolve the issue over FYROM’s name), an interesting meeting was held at the offices of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV). Attendants included representatives of some of Greece’s most powerful industrial complexes, such as Titan Cement, Mytilineos, Olympia, Stasinopoulos Group, as well as representatives of the Foreign Ministry. The purpose of the meeting was to prepare the next day for the Greek industry. The interest of this wide-ranging meeting was the fact that attendees were looking at the map of the wider region, observing the new opportunities created
in such a liquid environment. The host of the meeting, Mr. Konstantinos Bitsios, executive vice president of SEV, stressed: “It is imperative that the forces of Greek entrepreneurship and economic diplomacy be combined, to achieve a significant benefit for the national economy and empower Greek companies in international markets.” If one takes into account that
representatives of major players and businesses, such as the Pan-Hellenic Association of Pharmaceutical Industries and Eurobank, also participated in the meeting, it is understood that the representatives of a strong core of the business community in the country are trying to catch up with the new opportunities created in the vulnerable environment of the wider region. In fact, they wish to follow the pace of major investment opportunities that are being opened up. An advocate to the above is the fact that: both the European Commission and the representatives of the domestic industry have redefined the target for the participation of industry in the European and Greek GDP, respectively. As shown by data, there is in Greece at least a strong mass of industrial enterprises that not only resisted the crisis, but also recorded a strong upward trend: it is the export-oriented industrial enterprises. According to data from a survey carried out by the New Times, published in the current issue, the net profits of 1,100 large industrial and manufacturing companies in the country are up 35% in their latest published balance sheets (2016). The increase is much higher if the results include those of Hellenic Petroleum and Public Power Corporation (PPC), which significantly affect the overall picture. According to the findings of the nationwide survey by NEW TIMES (including Hellenic Petroleum and PPC), 1,100 large industrial and productive enterprises in the country:

● Increased their gross earnings from €6.5 billion in 2015 to €10 billion in 2016, recording
an increase of 53.2%
● Made total sales of €40.38 billion in 2016
● Increased total net profits from €750 million in 2015 to €1.8 billion in 2016, or an
increase of 142%
● The financial picture of these businesses appears to be improving.

It is therefore worthwhile — apart from the major national issues, on which decisions must be taken that will not create faults against Greece — to focus also on the country’s healthy, productive, extrovert forces, which are the only guarantee for a restart of the economy, thus shielding Greece.

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