Each month GCT presents a round-up of key events, facts and figures as presented by Greek government agency, Enterprise Greece for the benefit of our readership.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met President Donald Trump at the White House on Jan. 7, confirming the deepening relationship between Greece and America. The visit follows a newly signed mutual defense treaty between Greece and the U.S. and the enactment of the East Med Act, which outlines U.S. security and energy partnerships in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The state-controlled natural gas companies of Greece and Bulgaria – Depa and Bulgartransgaz – have each agreed to take 20% stake in the new Gastrade LNG project to be set up in the northern port of Alexandroupolis. The project, which includes an offshore regasification facility and pipeline, will help cement Greece’s role as a regional energy hub and enhance Bulgaria’s energy security.
Greece’s main equity index rose 43% in 2019, making the Athens Stock Exchange the top performing stock market in Europe, according to international business news channel CNBC. German business newspaper Handelsblatt said the rising prices of Greek assets reflects the increased optimism of international investors in the Greek market.
Greece’s Public Debt Management Agency said it plans to raise between €4 and €8 billion in 2020 despite adequate cash reserves to meet government funding needs. In a statement, PDMA said its debt management strategy will allow it to reduce its reliance on short-term T-bills, or for possible further pre-payment of official and private sector debt.
The Bank of Greece raised its forecast for Greek GDP growth to 2.4% this year, up from 2.1% previously, reflecting an accelerating economic recovery. For 2019, the central bank maintained its expectations of 1.9% growth. Greece’s parliament last month approved the final 2020 budget, which foresees GDP growth of 2.8% this year.
Greek economic sentiment jumped to 109.5 points in December from 107.0, according to the monthly index by the Foundation for Economic & Industrial Research, its highest level in 12 years. The data showed improved expectations across the board, particularly in the building and services sectors. Separate data from December also show that Greek manufacturing grew at the fastest rate in Europe.
The number of cruise ship visitors to Greece is expected to grow further following a 15% increase in 2019, marking a sharp upturn for one of Greece’s fastest growing tourism products. According to data from the Hellenic Ports Association, the number of cruise ship arrivals surpassed 5.5 million last year, up from 4.8 million in 2018.
The number of Golden Visa residence permits last year jumped 22% from a year earlier, underscoring the growing popularity of the investment program. According to official data, Greece issued 2,239 permits in 2019, compared with 1,833 a year earlier. In total, 6,304 Golden Visas have been granted since the start of the program in 2014.