Although modest, Greece’s economic recovery is happening and it’s good news for international trade and trade shows, which are very popular with industry experts.
Greece has been facing an unprecedented crisis since 2008 but there is light appearing at the end of the tunnel. Supported by three successive plans from the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the country has engaged in some far-reaching reforms: a clean-up of its public finances and banking sector, modernisation of the State and administrative bodies and deregulation of the economy to improve its competitiveness and investor appeal. The macroeconomic data confirm the progress that has been made, with GDP stabilising at €221.3 billion in 2016. More importantly, confidence is returning, particularly among investors who are starting to consider Greece once again.
A service-dominated economy
The Greek economy is predominantly tertiary, with services accounting for 79% of GDP and employing 71% of the working population. The merchant navy and tourism are the two main sectors, bringing in revenue of €10 billion and €14.2 billion respectively in 2015. The Greek fleet tops the world rankings for transport capacity, with the industry accounting for 15.7% of GDP and employing 15% of the working population. The main sectors are electronics, transport equipment, clothes manufacturing and construction. Meanwhile, the agricultural industry (4.1% of GDP and 13% of the working population) comprises many small farms with a Mediterranean bias (olive oil, citrus fruits, sheep and goat farming, etc.). Greece is the world’s 5th largest cotton producer and Europe’s largest tobacco producer.
An outward-facing country
Trade accounts for 61% of Greece’s GDP. The country has historically been open to the outside world, exporting mainly to Italy, Germany and Cyprus and importing primarily from Russia, Germany and Italy. France is number 11 on its client list and its seventh-largest supplier and Greece ranks high in France’s Eurozone trade surpluses (€1.44 bn). France’s main exports to Greece are consumer goods (perfumes and cosmetics, pharmaceutical products, textiles and clothing), agri-foods (beef) and capital goods. Greek exports are primarily aluminium and its derivatives, pharmaceutical products and plastics, fishing, aquaculture and agri-foods.
Most importantly, France is one of Greece’s main foreign investors with 120 French company subsidiaries located around Athens and Thessaloniki, employing 15,000 people in a variety of sectors (automotive, retail and distribution, tourism, industry, energy, etc.). Despite the crisis, the French employers remained in Greece to safeguard their future, a sign of true cooperation. Visiting Greece at the beginning of September, President Macron confirmed France’s commitment to helping its partner get back on the road to growth and employment.