FDI: The Growth Catalyst

By Stephanos Issaias, CEO, Invest in Greece Agency

January 22, 2013

For the first time in many years, the investment environment in Greece is marked by a significantly new characteristic: it is now possible to discuss a series of ongoing success stories and not rely on a narrative that has become all too familiar: what might be possible in the future, what might happen when Greece changes.

Change is apparent, success stories are being created, the investment environment has dramatically improved.

Good intentions of the past have today been replaced by bold, well-defined priorities backed by effective legislation and a government that understands time is crucial and timing is everything.

Greece has a new narrative that places foreign direct investment at the center of its growth strategy and that understands investors need a clear legal framework, a consistent and fair tax system, and bureaucracy wiped off the books.

Greece’s enhanced Fast Track law, simplified business start up process, legislation for integrated tourism resorts and holiday housing, the lifting of cabotage, new RES laws, streamlined environmental permit process, and new investment incentives are all now in place, not in the planning stages.

For the first time in many years, political uncertainty has come to an end. A coalition government, novel for Greece and challenging in any country, has proved to be in agreement on the need for Greece, once and for all, to declare that it is in and will remain in the Eurozone.

Reconstruction and reform have reduced Greece’s deficit from 16% to 7%, achieved a reduction in labor costs by 15%, thereby increasing competitiveness and, according to OECD’s Going for Growth report, Greece has made the biggest progress of all OECD countries in structural reforms since the start of the crisis, covering the 2007-11 period.

Greece’s public sector is undergoing one of the most massive reform programs in the world. Although resistance is evident, the government is proceeding in a way that achieves results while aiming for justice across social groups.

Greece’s new growth model is based on the compelling strengths the country has to offer, strengths that place Greece among the most attractive investment destinations in the world.

With a large and diverse number of sectors that are attracting the attention of companies from around the world, Greece is poised to enter a vital growth path that will welcome and sustain business activity in Tourism, Energy, Environmental Management, Life Sciences, Food and Beverages, Mining and ITC.

Supporting each of these sectors is a well-educated and talented workforce, and a modern and expanding infrastructure. In addition to the compelling competitive advantages Greece offers—its geostrategic location, its wealth of natural resources, and superb human capital—today’s investment scenario is uniquely marked by three key factors: first mover advantage, momentum, and full government support.

First mover advantage is one of the most important issues for investors to recognize today. It is a huge competitive advantage that will reward investors handsomely.

The momentum has begun. Following our reform program, we have significant success stories—in only a few months.And the government and Invest in Greece is prepared to help every investor succeed.

Our efforts have been swiftly recognized.

The World Bank’s "Doing Business 2013" report showed that Greece spectacularly improved its business environment during the last year, raising its ranking by 22 positions, to the 78th position among 185 countries evaluated in report. The report said that Greece was the 8th country globally with the biggest improvement in the regulatory framework for business activity last year.

Another report issued by the World Bank Group has ranked Invest in Greece Agency among the best performers of Investment Promotion Intermediaries in handling investor inquiries.

The World Bank’s study, “Global Investment Promotion Benchmarking 2012”, found that Invest in Greece Agency improved greatly between 2009 and 2012, and was ranked third globally in responding to investor inquiries.

Greece indeed has a new narrative, one of change, reform, and well-defined priorities. Invest in Greece, under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Development, is committed to helping the global business community take full advantage of an environment that puts the investor at the center of our every action.

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