One hundred and fifty passionate Greek Australian business leaders ‘zoomed’ into the Greek Australian Dialogue Series with Georgios Filiopoulos, the CEO of Enterprise Greece, on Wednesday night.
The Zoom conference was organised by Mr Paul Nicolaou, the Director of the Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry Business Leaders Council and Mrs Katia Gkikiza, Trade Commissioner of Greece in Australia.
Enterprise Greece is the official agency of the Greek State, under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to promote investment in Greece, exports from Greece, and make Greece more attractive as an international business partner.
The meeting was an opportunity for participants to discuss trade relations and investment opportunities between Greece and Australia.
“Greece is doing well in Australia. We have a positive trade trend both in goods and services. In fact, the volume of trade between Australia and Greece is well above €1 billion in recent years,” Mrs. Katia Gzikiza said.
“We start our discussion today on a good basis of cooperation. We have been doing well even during the pandemic and we feel we can do even better still,” she concluded.
On his part, Mr. Georgios Filiopoulos spoke about the government and Enterprise Greece's aim to increase export activity and attract investment.
“Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Greece has a good story to tell. Greece as a country is going through a profound transformation. Over the last decade, we have implemented an ambitious reform program, repaired public finances and pushed the country’s competitiveness international. Since last year, the Greek government has further stepped up those reform efforts (…) Earlier this year, our government introduced new legislation to boost sustainable development projects and investments in renewable energy. And there are also new initiatives to attract wealthy investors from abroad,” he stated in his opening remarks.
He also mentioned another important development which started a few weeks ago, the underwater power cable that will connect the island of Crete with the mainland. The new link contributes to an increase in electricity generated from renewable sources for use by the island’s residents and businesses. The interconnector will provide around 34% of Crete’s total electricity demand in 2021.
“On a personal level Greece is a very attractive place to live, work and retire. As many of you may know, the government is offering now new incentives for retirees to choose Greece as their tax residence. The centrepiece of this option is a flat tax rate of 7%,” the CEO of Enterprise Greece also mentioned in his presentation.
A number of attendees also had the opportunity to ask Mr. Georgios Filiopoulos questions.
When asked if there is a commitment to nurture start ups in Greece including sourcing university students, the CEO of Enterprise Greece responded: “We tried to reverse this ‘brain drain’ by attracting investments here in Greece and in the technology sector and other sectors that require talent and well educated people. Regarding startups, specifically in the technology sector, the Greek government has prepared an e-platform that will assist startups getting finance and getting the support they need in order to grow. (…) I think we are on a good path here.”
With respect to the unsettled activity regarding the Greek island of Kastellorizo and if it poses any concern for Greece and business affairs, Georgios Filiopoulos stated that “As most of you know, we have to deal with unruly neighbour, Turkey. Greece has developed many alliances and it has fostered its diplomatic relations with several countries in the region. We hope through these alliances and through mediation of the European Union and hopefully the U.S as well, the current crisis will resolve in the new few weeks or months. (…) So far from the investors we are dealing with, we haven’t heard any major concerns. But of course this is a matter of concern for us as a country, as a nation and we would like it seen resolved but it is not entirely in our hands.”
Concerning the digitalisation of Greece, the guest speaker noted that “Greece needs to move to the next generation in terms of the digital age, industry 4.0. As I have mentioned, we have very talented people, we need to move ahead in these sectors because this is the future, if we don’t advice in these sectors then you will be left out of the future growth. That’s why the government gives us special emphasis on the technology sector and technological advances in general."
The word on everyone’s lips “tourism”, was also touched upon. Mr Georgios Filiopoulos noted that he expects to see a very strong rebound in tourism next year.
The closing remarks and vote of thanks were given by Mrs Fotini Kypraios, Chair of Hellenic Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HACCI). “It was really encouraging to hear the significant growth of investment taking place in Greece. Lifting her brand as a world class investment hub."
“We look forward to further collaboration and also learning more about Greece’s leaps and bounces forward in investment and trade and of course beyond the pandemic when we come and visit you next," she concluded.