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Greek exporters turn to Russia

30 December 2011 / 15:12:58  GRReporter
4774 reads

Victoria Mindova

Greece enters its fourth year of negative economic growth and prospects for 2012 are even gloomier. In this situation, the success of local exporters seems almost amazing, taking into account that exports between January and September 2011 have almost doubled compared to 2010. Despite the debt crisis troubling the European Union countries, Greek exporters are not giving up and seek to sell their products to alternative markets.

One of the most attractive countries for Greek exporters appears to be Russia, where there is increasing interest in their products. GRReporter contacted the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board and Maria Antoniou gave details of the export sector development and their expectations for 2012.

How does 2011 end for the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board?

It seems that this year ends with a record increase in exports compared to the last ten years. In the last two years  alone, exports registered a significant jump at a time when the economic crisis hit the entire Greek market. In 2011, it reached an increase of 8.8%. The positive trend that has emerged so far shows that the country's exports could increase to achieve the objectives of the Ministry of Regional Development and Competitiveness exports to reach 16% of GDP by 2014. In particular, only in September this year, the increase in exports, according to the National Statistical Service is 65% including petrol products or 30.7% without them compared with 2010.

What are the strongest sectors, which have recorded the highest results? On which ones do you set the greatest hopes for the future?

Food, raw materials and industrial products have the highest growth rate and their demand is the highest. The increase in food is 29%, in raw materials it is 62.2% and it is 41.6% in industrial products. These product groups have great potential. We expect export revenues in the treasury to increase and exceed 10% of GDP soon. This will help limit the increase in the deficit due to the deepening recession and influence the final data with at least half a percentage point in a positive direction.

What are the goals of the Board for next year?

The Hellenic Foreign Trade Board applies in practice the national policy of expanding foreign trade. We are working with specific data and a business plan based on the strengths of the Greek production and regional development. We strive to promote the image and identity of Greek products and strong local companies in various sectors. Our activity is built on that and relies on specific numbers, not on empty ambitions.

The Board undertakes various initiatives to help Greek products establish themselves on foreign markets. We organize or take part in various trade fairs and business missions covering all economic sectors. They present food, drink, apparel, building materials, furniture, hotel furniture and other products of local production. We organized 22 initiatives in 2010 that have helped Greek businessmen establish their products on foreign markets. This year,there were 35 trade missions, fairs and other business meetings and cocktails. For 2012, we have a very intense programme of 65 specific initiatives to strengthen the country's export activity. Our statistics show that the activity and the pace of work increased by 62% this year compared with the previous, but in 2012, we will have another increase of 65%. Targeted actions always bring positive results.

What are the main priorities on which you plan to focus next year, given that 2012 will be severe not only for Greece?

Our presentation to the international markets is based on the high quality of local produce. Particularly important is our presentation on key markets in countries that register growth, develop and provide new opportunities. The quality of Greek products on traditional markets such as Europe is already proven and we have our positions there, but the new target markets where we are not present as we should be are no less important.

The main countries we strive to conquer are those of the Arab world and the USA where we will launch mainly food and drinks. Russia has an interest in the products of many sectors including products such as building materials, leather, some food categories, as well as China, Brazil, the countries of South America, plus those of the European Union.

What do you think are the possibilities of the Russian market?

The market of Russia registers steady growth of around 6% - 7% and is constantly upgraded. Economic stability has created a strong new middle class that is increasingly seeking and buying Greek products. I would like to emphasize that Greek exports to Russia increase each year. In 2010, they jumped by 37.2% compared with 2009. For the first nine months of 2011, the increase was 31.86% compared with the same period last year.

We organized a very successful trade mission in Russia in the middle of December that involved nine Greek companies which were mainly from the sectors of construction materials, aluminium, marble and agricultural machinery. We held 120 different business meetings with 37 Russian entrepreneurs for three days. Some of them are ongoing with the second stage of negotiations and we expect to finish them with the signing of new contracts.


Tags: EconomyCompaniesExportsGreeceRussia
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