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Wilbur Ross

Following his meeting in Athens on Thursday with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross praised the two-month young government’s course of policy implementation by saying that “not only are they implementing the right-bona fide policies, but they are doing so with a sense of urgency.”

Wilbur Ross stressed how “it is very clear the present government knows what Greece needs,” and noted how it is “already moving towards both lowering taxation and putting reforms into place,” and described the coexistence of these two elements as “particularly important.”

Referring to discussions with the Greek government on exempting Greek olive oil exports from the US’s increased tariff regime, Ross argued that “this is very likely,” and expressed a similar view on aluminium and steel exports.

There were 1,300 Greek product exemption applications, Ross said, noting that the majority were approved while some 200 are still pending.

“I hope that when the EU realises this government is succeeding in what it has pledged will do, they will allow it to not have such aggressive targets for primary surpluses, because it is a factor that stalls the economy,” Ross underlined.

Ross pointed out that “Greece has become a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) distribution centre. The pipeline has already been completed and an LNG cargo has already been delivered to Bulgaria. This is a very important development, changing the terms of the game, as it is the first time Bulgaria has imported gas outside of Russia. And when the section of the pipeline crossing Italy is completed, the market will broaden up even more.”

Concerning petroleum management, Ross said “it is a very good idea to promote, anew, the privatisation of Hellenic Petroleum,” because, as he said, firstly “there is a very dynamic privatisation program active right now,” secondly that “privatised companies work better than when under state control,” and thirdly that “they can bring in revenue to the government for other purposes.”

He also spoke extensively about the acceleration of corporate licensing, which the government is actively promoting, and also about resolving intellectual property issues.

Before heading out on consecutive two-day visits to Istanbul and Ankara respectively, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said that he will try to “ensure Turkey remains firmly in the West,” and made a final comment on Turkey recently purchasing the Russian S-400 missile system.

“We cannot sell them the F-35s, but they can (surely) accommodate companies pulling out of China”, in light of both Turkey’s weakened appeal as an investment destination and the trade war.


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