Ομιλία του Πρωθυπουργού κ. Αντώνη Σαμαρά στο Ελληνοκινέζικο Business Forum στη Σαγκάη

18 Μαΐ 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very glad and honoured to be here, this evening on such a special occasion.
Shanghai is one of the largest cities in the world, a metropolis of global commerce and the heart of the economic boom of China.
During the days of my visit in this great country, I had the opportunity to get more familiar and further appreciate the famous Chinese culture and civilization.
I had the opportunity to visit the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. Monuments which impress and remind every foreign visitor of the contribution of your nation to world heritage.
However, no one can neglect the achievements of modern China, too, in fields like science, arts and trade.
As Greeks, we respect and feel familiar with the long history of China.
We should not forget that Socrates and Confucius lived at the same period and are world-widely acknowledged as the fathers of philosophy.
Both our countries have an ancient past and a promising future.
Therefore, I am deeply committed to strengthening our bilateral relations.
In the business fora that take place during this trip, the strong presence of Greek and Chinese entrepreneurs ready to embark on business ventures reveals the potential of our coming together and joining forces.
There is no doubt that our co-operation can only grow if there is stability in the political and economic environment.
Until recently, many financial commentators were predicting gloomy forecasts for the Greek economy.
We have proved them wrong.
Greece is determined to fight and win this battle; there is no other alternative for us.
And we are winning: all major international reports and reviews are now showing that we are prevailing.
Greece is steadily developing into a “success story”.

Indeed, great and tangible progress has been recently made:

First, political and social stability is secured.
Our coalition government, which is supported by three political parties of different ideological origin, has proved absolutely solid and has proved able to deliver.

Secondly, the so- called “Grexit”, Greece exiting the Eurozone, scenarios are dead.
Our European partners and the IMF acknowledge the success of our efforts to achieve fiscal adjustment.
The agreement of last November on the Greek debt and the positive Eurogroup reviews that have followed are providing us with a stable and secure financial ground to build upon.
There is no currency risk anymore: the fears of a “Grexit” are now replaced by the certainty of a "Greekovery".

Thirdly, full Re-capitalization of Greek banking system is about to be completed.
This will bring new confidence and trust in our banking system and easier access to finance for the business community.

Having achieved a safe political, fiscal and financial environment, we are currently implementing innovative structural changes.
Such reforms that empower entrepreneurship, include:

A new investment law that, beyond its generous incentives, it also provides a Single licensing authority, acting as an one-stop-shop.
And, also, a self-assessment system of compliance with Greek Law that overcomes all unnecessary delays, bureaucracy, on behalf of the public administration, thus saving valuable time for investors.
On top of that, we provide the right to non-EU citizens, a right for all of you, to acquire a residence permit for 5 years, that can be renewed, if you invest in real estate assets of more than 250,000€.

Initiatives towards a friendlier business environment.

• We are liberalizing the energy market, the transportation sector, and we have abolished cabotage for cruises.

• We have Simplified our environmental licensing, and

• We have established the an one-stop-shop and a central company registry in order to make the starting of a business much easier than ever in order to facilitate, therefore, new business.

We have, through our laws, more labor flexibility which has been introduced by abolishing bureaucratic rigidities to the benefit of competitiveness.

We are fully and unequivocally embracing extroversion and we are putting together a new National Export Strategy:
Most of our foreign investors want to export the goods they produce in Greece, to other markets also.
We make this easier, faster and more cost-effective by drastically simplifying our “trading-across-borders” procedures, while assisting business to engage with international networks and partners.

And finally, Greece is going through a large-scale program of privatizations in several sectors of our Greek Economy.

There are 28 ongoing privatization projects as we speak:

• on infrastructure, i.e. ports, airports and railways.
• on real estate, including numerous assets of commercial, retail, tourist and residential interest
• and on various state-owned companies, such as those in the energy sector.

Privatizations, I do not see them as a mere sale of assets; rather, I see them as a form, as a key element in re-establishing credibility, lump starting growth and setting Greece on the map as a global investment destination providing opportunities.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
We feel that the Chinese business community appreciates our efforts to create a new competitive, more outward-looking, investment-friendly economy.
Several important Chinese companies have already invested in Greece.
Our world is changing. Traditional trading flows are losing ground, China exports all over the world; Europe is China’s first trade partner. New commercial routes are gaining ground and significance: through the Suez channel to the Mediterranean and hence all over the single European market. Greece located at the southeastern tip of Europe can easily become a major gateway of China to the European hinterland.

For example, COSCO’s presence in Piraeus port is a significant and successful investment.

Exports from Greece to China increased by 42% approximately during the last year and especially in the food and beverage sector, exports have been tripled. Many reputable Greek companies are active in China, as well.
Obviously, this boost has allowed China to climb, as far as Greece is concerned, fourteen positions and become the 10th biggest importer of our goods.
Further testament to the strengthening of our bilateral relations are the several agreements signed over the course of my visit here, after the meeting we had with the Prime Minister of China.
There are also more fields that can provide significant business opportunities for both Greek and Chinese entrepreneurs.
For instance:
- Shipping.
Greece has the largest merchant fleet in the world and the Greek ship-owning community has increasingly proven its trust to the Chinese shipbuilding industry. Many of them are with us tonight, participating in this forum.
Based on last month's data and despite the continuing global crisis and tonnage overcapacity, Greek ship-owners have 142 ships currently under construction in Chinese shipyards.
To further support such activities, it would be useful to consider the development of financial facilitation programs for ship building provided by banks.
Given that China is also drastically increasing its fleet, it would be wise to advance our strategic partnerships and cooperation, since our two nations dominate the global mercantile marine.
- Tourism.
Greece is one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the world; combining rich cultural heritage, natural beauty and ideal climate, Greece is a unique place for business meetings and leisure.
Our goal is to attract the interest of a significant number of Chinese tourists to visit Greece and create good prospects for further bilateral tourism cooperation.
The issue of VISA facilitation and the possibility of establishing VISA application centers, which we will do, in selected Chinese areas, is a key factor for further improvement of our tourist capacity.
Also air-connection between Greece and China could be revisited. We want to welcome more of our Chinese friends to Greece.
- Food and beverage.
Both our countries have rich agricultural tradition and cooperation in this area and it can prove mutually beneficial.
Greek products are synonymous with quality and well-being, such as wine, baby food, aquaculture, fruits and vegetables, and, of course, the unrivalled olive oil.
We are also ready to cooperate with the traders and the Chinese authorities in extending the Phytosanitary agreements and ease the trade of more fresh fruits, beyond kiwis.
Textiles and tobacco can further contribute our collaboration in the primary sector.
The potential of the Chinese market to absorb quality Greek products is great and not yet fully explored.
Beyond these more traditional fields, business cooperation may also extent to some less known, but with high potential and added-value, such as:
- Pharmaceuticals
China imports significant quantities of medicines and the Greek pharmaceutical industry offers effective, innovative and competitive solutions. And I, personally, see a significant field of opportunity in this sector.
- New technologies and ICT
We give major importance to innovation and some of the entrepreneurs that join us today will be able to showcase several examples of Greece’s cutting edge technology.
We are currently building our broadband infrastructure for both the public sector and the retail.
We focus on a new digital economy that fosters opportunities for innovative services, able to multiply the generated revenues from the ICT sector itself and horizontally for most other sectors.
Our initiatives are set to utilize Greece’s highly skilled labor force and facilitate our start-ups ecosystems.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
China is both a major exporter and a major importer of goods.
"Going global", your government's initiative to support Chinese companies to invest abroad, reflects a significant penetration of China to global markets.
Greece is a member of the European Union and Eurozone and holds a strategic location, a gateway to a wider economic area.
Greek is also rich in well educated, well experienced, skilled and multilingual human resources.
Combining Greece’s and China’s advantages we can make a strong partnership and we can build a mutually beneficial collaboration.
I want to emphasize that the Greek Government is willing to schedule more activities and take more initiatives, to bring together our entrepreneurs, like business meetings and trade fora in order to illustrate:
The products our entrepreneurs produce, the services they offer, and the investment opportunities they put forward, or the joint-ventures that might arise on a win-win basis.
So, I would like to encourage our institutional representatives from both the public and the private sector to follow up on this visit with initiatives that build on the momentum.
With these thoughts in mind, I would like to thank once again the Chinese government for its exceptional hospitality. Very warm hospitality that we will never forget.
Dear friends,
This is the last stop of my current visit to China, but I strongly feel that this is the beginning of a new, more prosperous chapter in the history of our people.
Confucius spoke about the “path to Wisdom”
Plato wrote about the “path to Virtue”
Let us join our forces, to establish our own common path to a very prosperous future.
Thank you very much.
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