Open door to investors as reforms roll ahead
A naturally attractive destination for investment, Greece now has programs in place adding structure and substance
Attracting foreign investment is vital for sustainable growth in Greece and so the government has prioritized reforms to provide the perfect business climate. These are already having an effect – inflows were almost €2.8 billion in 2016, the highest since 2010, and Dimitrios Liakos, Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister, is “receiving signals that there is great interest in investing.”
But what’s in it for investors? Perhaps foremost is its location, which Liakos describes as “at the crossroads of three continents, fully interconnected with the major European ports and the gateway to Europe for Asian economies.” As a member of the EU and Eurozone as well, Greece offers barrier-free access to over 140 million people. The highly skilled workforce and competitive labor costs are also major assets.
Other advantages Liakos highlights are infrastructure, funding for investments, agricultural product quality, important shipping and tourism sectors, and research expertise. He believes it’s a naturally attractive destination for investments, that is now adding “political and financial stability, along with an extensive set of sector- wide reforms” to make it “Investment Friendly.”
These reforms, plus new investment- promoting programs, have been introduced in collaboration with all economic stakeholders, including European institutions. They are designed to give investors “the confidence that they have a clear runway in front of them,” as Minister of Finance Euclid Tsakalotos puts it. A new investment law offers 12 years’ tax stability, while a public procurement law means the buying process will be transparent and open to anyone. One-stop licensing centers are also being opened, where investors can get information and submit applications quickly.
Besides traditional investments, Greece is prioritizing public-private partnerships and a privatization program. The implementation of this program was complicated and slow, but in 2016 the government set up the Hellenic Corporation of Assets and Participations (HCAP), to manage, exploit and enhance the value of its assets. Some deals have already happened, like the selling of 67% of the Piraeus port, to China’s COSCO for €280.5 million.
Upcoming opportunities include liberalization of energy and the state’s real estate portfolio. According to Liakos, the stock market also “has great investment capacity,” and gaming company OPAP recently completed a landmark €200-million bond issue. Whichever market segment investors choose to tap into, the first-mover advantage applies.