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Exports Key to Greece’s Bailout Exit, Focus Should be on New Growth: Experts

Exports Key to Greece’s Bailout Exit, Focus Should be on New Growth: Experts
According to official data, the key driver that enabled Greece to come out of the bail out program was the enhanced exports of goods and services.
According to experts, there was enough potential remaining in Greece to stage a comeback despite many industries – which were hard hit by the crisis, had moved out of the country to avoid increased taxes. the experts now say that Greece now should focus on "industry gain" to nullify the "industry drain".
According to Greek Statistical Authority experts, increase in exports of goods and services also accounted for Greece's return to growth. The sharp fall in domestic consumption was offset by Greece by focusing on exports, explained the experts in regular reports.
About 19 per cent of Greece's GDP was accounted for by exports just before the crisis broke out in late 2009. The number had reached 30 per cent by 2017 and the trend of the \increase is still continuing. 
Aluminum, marble and olive oil were the major product categories that supported the turnaround of the ailing economy according to a recent survey by the National Bank of Greece. These products have also traditionally been the mainstay of the Greek exports. In recent year, there has been some new addition in the export portfolio of Greece such as yoghurt.
There was a 15.7 per cent year-on-year growth in Greek exports in the first half of this year at 16.4 billion euros according to a Panhellenic Exporters Association report. Imports were valued at 27 billion euros in the same period.
The Panhellenic Exporters Association said that the exports could not be further enhanced because of capital controls that were imposed in the country in the summer of 2015.
These arguments were agreed to by Vassilis Korkidis, President of the Hellenic Confederation of Trade and SMEs (ESEE) and President of the Piraeus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI).
"Capital controls limited business. A country with capital controls, as you can understand, loses also credibility abroad. Nevertheless, the private sector in our country managed to retain the good name we had created," Korkidis said in a recent interview to the media.
The picture however is not completely rosy despite the indexes of industrial production and exports seem encouraging.
"We are not selling our products at the prices we would like in order to have profit, but we export, because there is no domestic demand and we do not want to keep them on the shelves," he explained.
Sectors that have the potential to deliver more, such as agricultural production, should be the focus of the government, Korkidis suggested.
"The industry has been hit hard. We all know by now that Greece cannot have heavy industry, but can have an industry with long history behind and know-how," he said.
"Many industrial units were transferred to other Balkan countries due to over taxation. Maybe it is time for their return, if the taxation rates for businesses decrease from the current 29 percent to 26 percent and then 20 percent within a couple of years. I believe that this is what should happen so that we can have an industry gain like we had the industry drain," he stressed.
Finding out ways to resolve the financing issues of businesses and a national growth plan should be the focus, believes Yorgos Kavvathas, President of the Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen and Merchants (GSEVEE).
"A country with four systemic banks cannot move ahead to growth. She needs a Development bank of special purpose which will support those sectors of the economy which can become the steam engines that will pull forward the train of growth," he said in a recent interview ot the media.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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