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Greece warns: "Think before entering the eurozone!"

22 April 2010 / 10:04:10  GRReporter
4251 reads

Victoria Mindova

The National Confederation of Greek merchants includes 13 federations and 257 trade unions in the country. The activities of the Confederation of Greek enable business circles to take an active part in public dialogue related to the economic problems of the country. It protects the rights of its members and provides them with support on institutional level. It also conducts programs and training seminars in various fields of business knowledge. President of the Confederation Vassilis Korkidis offers his views on the state of the Greek economy for GRReporter. 

What do you think about the emergency economic measures which the government of George Papandreou launched this year? Do you think the government could have avoided the VAT and fuel taxes increase? 

Our position is that the new government policy will reduce the development of the market and will further impede trade of the country. The new economic restrictions reduce the purchasing power of consumers and the overall liquidity of the market. The result will be a long term recession in the national economy. We understand the direction of such policies, but it is our obligation to point out that without a prospect of increased productivity in the country, the exit of the economic crisis today will be even more difficult. 

How will these measures affect trade in Greece and which business sectors will be most affected? 

It is a fact that any type of restrictions in the economic policy of the country creates problems in trade and reduces it. However, in this case, Greece has an exceptional need to introduce new rules, more effective management of public finances, without leaving behind the prospect for economic growth and expansion of production. According to data from the confederation at this time the biggest difficulties are experienced by manufacturers, importers and retailers of clothing and footwear in the country. It is interesting to note that the least affected sector is production and marketing of children's goods, food products and cosmetics. Right now we are preparing a written list of suggestions to promote recovery of the market and the positive attitude of the consumer. Government must introduce a new policy, which will ensure development and protection of the market, because ultimately pessimistic climate in trade does help anyone. 

Greece is the second largest investor in Bulgaria and third in Romania. How will contraction in domestic reflect trade relations with neighboring countries? 

I believe that in the current difficult market conditions in Greece companies, which have already established themselves in the Bulgarian and Romanian markets, can only increase their investments in these two countries. One of the most important factors is the presence of specific tax incentives in these markets, which creates an especially favorable business climate in the two Balkan countries. 

How effective do you believe the national strategic framework for development is and will it have real effect for the revival of trade in Greece? What do you think of the aid programs aimed at small and medium business for repayment their debts to state institutions? 

The position of the National Confederation of Greek traders is that the programs developed by the Ministry of Economy will provide an initial boost to small businesses in difficulty and will enable traders to get out of deadlock, where they are because of the economic crisis. Without perspective and a clear plan for production growth, these efforts will remain fruitless in the long term. We as official representatives of the trade circles in the country, feel obliged to stress once again the need to synchronize the time for action for the support programs aimed at small and medium businesses, so that as many businesses in difficulty as possible can take advantage of government subsidies. Overall, our assessment is that the aid programs provided by the Ministry of Economy provide great opportunities for resumption of trade in the country. 

What advice would you give to small and medium businesses and traders so that they can survive during the crisis? 

These difficult times for the world of trade in Greece require calmness and moderation on the part of small businesses. It is undeniable that trade is now at the center of the economic crisis. One reason for this is that trade in general has less assets and financial reserves compared to other sectors of the economy. However, trade is the backbone of the Greek economy and it must be paid attention to. In this context I would urge all my colleagues for the patience and not to pay attention to negativity in the public domain. 

How do you think the economic crisis in Greece affected its commercial trade with Balkan countries? 

First I must emphasize that countries do not easily fall into bankruptcy, especially Member States of the eurozone. Most likely, the economic crisis will create new opportunities for cooperation between businesses in the Balkans precisely because of the long presence of Greek companies in the region. 

When and under what conditions do you expect market liquidity to be restored? When is the earliest to expect positive economic growth? 

Tags: Greece Bulgaria economy crisis eurozone
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