The British-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce organised a conference to discuss the implications, costs and opportunities for the Greek economy with Britain’s exit from the European Union.
The conference, titled “Brexit: Opportunities and Threats for Business’’ reflected on how the Brexit will affect the thousands of Greek students, businesspeople and employees working in the United Kingdom and the EU.
According to Economy Minister Dimitris Papadimitriou the implications from the Brexit could cost Greece 0.3% to 1% of the GDP for two years, describing it as a "rather mild effect, if the good scenario prevails’’ in terms of the agreements that the UK and EU eventually reached.
The Minister added that there will be an immediate cost from the decline in Greek exports of goods and services as well as British investments and an indirect cost that could derive from a possible upheaval in international markets, which may increase the risk and lending rates because of price downturn of Greek government bonds.
“In this case, the slowdown of economic development in Europe will further aggravate domestic liquidity and non-performing loans held by Greek banks,” he said.
Another indirect cost will come from the inevitable change in the EU budget, in which Britain’s contribution stands at 16.56 billion euros, or 11.13% of the total budget -versus 1.86 billion euros for Greece or 1.4% of the total, he added.
On her side, the British Ambassador to Greece, Kate Smith, focused on the future of Greek-British relations after the Brexit.
“The United Kingdom seeks a deep and special partnership that will cover security and economic cooperation in the interests of Britain and all its European partners,” she said.
Smith told the conference Britain is the seventh largest export market for Greek products while Greek shipping is one of the major recipients of financial and other specialist services offered in London’s City. “Therefore, it makes sense for Greece and Britain to have a bold and ambitious free trade agreement,” she said.
Addressing the anxieties Greek employees and investors in Britain, the ambassador said her country wants to have certainty concerning the status of Greeks investing in the UK and the Greeks working in Britain, so as to continue to deepen economic bonds.
Speaking to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency, the Greek President of the British-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, Harris Ikonomopoulos, said the issue of whether Britain’s exit from the EU will offer more opportunities or threats to all sides involved will depend on the “political maturity, historical memory and thoroughness that we will show as a government, as productive entities, as a people, as Europeans.”
“The UK is not just a member of the EU that decided to withdraw from an economic union. It is a historic guardian of European peace and security,” he added. “The negotiations on the conditions of the exit may be held by politicians and bureaucrats, however they involve millions of European citizens, students, employees and businesses. Whether opportunities will be highlighted and risks tackled must not only depend on the political maturity and the historical memory of the European Commission, the British government and the European partners. They can and must take into account the needs, daily lives, prosperity and future of all the people in Europe."