Greece has a well spring and is considered to be one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The Greek topography with dramatic mountains, lush valleys and groves,
and a coastline that extends more than 16,000 kilometers, provides residents and visitors with a wealth of leisure and recreation options that are unequalled in the Mediterranean. Combining a modern infrastructure and the stark beauty of the ancient Greece, the birthplace of Western civilization is one of the leading tourism destinations globally that satisfies young and old, the adventurous spirit and the academic researcher, the wandering Odysseus and the urban habitué.
Greece is highly appealing as an investment business location. Greece offers a wide variety of investment opportunities that take advantage of the country’s strategic geographic location and unique competitive advantages. Greece is a natural gateway to more than 140 million consumers in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Southeast Europe, a region with a GDP of almost 1 trillion Euros. As the hub of diverse emerging markets, Greece provides access to populations with a strong demand for consumer goods, infrastructure modernization, technology and innovation networks, energy, tourism development, and light manufacturing.
Companies in Greece have a strong foothold in the region and are among the top three investors in every market. Over the last few years more than 4,000 companies in Greece have invested more than 15 billion Euros in Southeast Europe. In financial services alone more than 3,000 branches of Greek banks are active in the region.
Investors are discovering that Greece has a combination of characteristics that are unequalled in Europe. Greece is a leading global tourism destination, an emerging regional energy hub, and possesses human capital that is outstanding.
Since January 1st 2001, Greece has entered the European Monetary Union (EMU), one year before the actual circulation of the common currency. Following its full membership of the European Monetary Union (EMU), Greece replaced its former monetary unit, the drachma (GRD), with the Euro (EUR) on 1 January 2002. The conversion rate was 1 EUR = 340.75 GRD.
The Greek economy expanded at an average annual rate of 4% from 2004-2007 and 2% during 2008 (at constant prices of 2000), one of the highest rates in the Euro zone. International economic uncertainty has had an impact on Greece in 2009; growth rates of GDP (-1.9%) were slowed. The inclusion of Greece in the EU – IMF support mechanism, with restrictive economic measures that have been taken for fiscal consolidation, has negatively affected GDP development in 2010 as well, during which a decrease of GDP by -2.5% to -4% is estimated. However, reforms and restrictive policy implementations have already begun to bear positive results. The public deficit decreased by 46% during the first semester of 2010, allowing for the expectation that Greece will return to the bond markets in 2011. A significant improvement in the development trends of GDP is expected in 2011 through further reforms aimed at the development of a more attractive investment and business environment, including liberalization of a number of markets, faster licensing procedures, the new investment law, flexibility in the labor market, and others.
In 2010 fiscal stabilization and consolidation in Greece are a priority; however private investment (both national and international) and exports are primary growth drivers, rather than an increase in public spending, as was the case in the past. Notable is that labor productivity in Greece continues to show an increase in 2009 and remains at higher levels than the EU-27 average.
Sectors for Investments
Tourism: Greece is one of the top tourism destinations in the world. The number of tourists visit over the last decade has shown a steady increase. The increasing number of tourists and the evolving profile of today’s traveler demand a host of new tourism offerings and infrastructure projects. Currently, more than 9,000 hotels operate in Greece. Due to Greece’s many islands and islets, more than 6,000, the geographical range of tourism destinations is extensive. In Greece, investors will find a wide spectrum of opportunities, a welcome environment for new investment, and some of the most beautiful locations in the world. A new investment incentives law will be launched during 2010.
Energy: As the world addresses diverse and challenging questions related to energy production and supply, Greece is in a pivotal position to chart its energy future, emerging as a strategic energy hub in Southeast Europe and a desirable location for investment. The energy policy of Greece favors major private sector investment. It is estimated by the World Bank that investment of more than 30 billion Euro will be required by 2020 in the upgrade and building of power plants, in transmission and distribution, and in renewable energy sources (RES). Greece’s comprehensive energy policy, to establish sustainable, competitive, and secure sources of energy, has established an encompassing regulatory and market framework for the energy sector. This, in combination with Greece’s wide-ranging investment regulatory framework, provides for exceptional opportunities for investment in a number of areas.
ICT: A strong policy commitment, notably through the National Digital Strategy (2006-2013), has led to an improvement of most benchmarking indicators in the Greek ICT sector. There is headroom for significant growth, as the public and private sectors embrace new technologies throughout the country. The Greek ICT market is service oriented and roughly 85% of the sector is focused on telecommunications. The Greek ICT sector offers a unique opportunity for investment in high-end, value added services with a global reach. Business operations of international companies that rely on skilled labor will find highly attractive resources in Greece. Establishing software development labs or microchip and MEMS design centers are just some examples of high return opportunities that Greece offers. For companies that rely on know-how advantages to support strong growth rates, establishing an R&D lab to develop new technologies can be a highly beneficial investment.
Food & Beverage: Food and beverage is the most dynamic and high-growth sector in Greek manufacturing, accounting for 25% of turnover, 24% of employment, 25% of total invested capital, and almost 25% of added value. Foreign companies have experienced high rates of success in this sector since the Greek market has shown robust growth for almost a decade. In addition, Greece serves as an ideal bridge to the emerging markets of Southeast Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean.
Greece’s Life Sciences industry has been developing at a vigorous rate. Start-up and spin-off companies are emerging with new products and established players are increasingly pursuing international R&D collaborations for the development of competitive, technology-based products. Essential to this dynamic growth is the Greek R&D infrastructure, which includes internationally renowned Research Institutes and University Research Groups. Greece is proud to host world-class research teams, engaged in leading edge Life Sciences Research and international collaborations with corporate and research players, in Europe and worldwide.
Greece is embarking on a long-term plan to overhaul its waste management practices. New technologies are needed to deal with an increasing burden of waste and that meet the demand for disposal, energy generation, recycling, and building new, closed-loop systems that limit waste generation. According to EU directives, all Member States, including Greece, should recycle 55-80% of packaging material by 2011 and decrease organic urban waste by 25% through composting processes at source by 2010. This should increase to 50% by 2013 and 65% by 2020. Since there is insufficient domestic capacity to meet the needs of the market, investment opportunities are exceptional. The Greek government, local waste management authorities, and private waste management service companies need the expertise of foreign firms to fill this significant gap.
WHY INVEST IN GREECE
Foreign Direct Investment, One of the most impressive achievements of the significant reforms carried out by the Greek government since 2004 has been the dynamic increase in Foreign Direct Investment. For instance, gross FDI inflows in 2006 totaled more than 6.29 billion Euro, a 100% increase over 2005. More significantly, net inflows reached 4.27 billion Euro, up from 487 million Euro in 2006, a noteworthy 10-fold increase.
Investment Incentives, Greece’s Investment Incentives Law governs the terms and conditions of direct investment in Greece and provides for the incentives available to domestic and foreign investors.
The Greek Economy, As a member of the EU and the Euro zone, Greece offers access to high-growth and emerging regional markets, and is characterized by sectors that demonstrate significant competitive advantages for the international investor. Greece has a well-developed and efficient infrastructure, and offers a highly skilled and well-trained workforce, whose labor costs are highly competitive within the EU. The country's abundant natural resources complement many areas of investment and the variety of specialized industrial and technology clusters supports optimal entrepreneurial activity.
Trade, Exports from Greece have been growing steadily in recent years and stand at 9.5 % of GDP. The total value of Greek exports was 7.033 million Euros for the first half of 2009. Exports to the EU reached 64% of all exports, demonstrating the importance of this market to Greek international trade.
Infrastructure, The holding of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens was a major catalyst for Greece to initiate a number of changes and improvements in a variety of areas. One of the greatest beneficiaries was the infrastructure of Greece. _
Human Capital, During the last three decades in Greece, demographic shifts, EU integration, and global trends have been reshaping the economic landscape so that human resources are meeting the needs of today’s service and knowledge-based economy.
Access to Financing & Venture Capital in Greece, Investors have a wide selection of alternatives for their financing needs to implement their projects.
Emerging National Markets, Greece is an ideal location from which to access the emerging markets of Southeast Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. View our interactive map that highlights the countries of Southeast Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean and their economic relationship with Greece.
The structural framework for investment support in Greece revolves around three institutional pillars: the Investment Incentives Law, the National Strategic Reference Framework 2007-’13, and Public Private Partnerships (PPP).
Investment Incentives Law
Greece’s Investment Incentives Law governs the terms and conditions of direct investment in Greece and provides for the incentives available to domestic and foreign investors, dependent on the sector and the location of the investment. The Ministry of Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping has suspended Law 3299/2004 effective 29/1/2010 and, in cooperation with the relevant Ministries, is proceeding to reevaluate the legislation. After a process of open discussion with bodies and organizations of the main sectors within the economy, the Ministry will reform the Investment Law to render it a major driver of a new development model, which will incorporate green development as a priority component.
Public Private Partnerships (PPP)
All PPP projects are approved, monitored, and coordinated by a special inter ministerial PPP Committee, and supported by a PPP Secretariat within the Ministry of National Economy. PPP projects no longer need parliamentary ratification.
PPP projects fall into one of two categories:
Projects directly reimbursed by the State
Projects reimbursed by end users (for example through tolls)
As of September 2008, 52 projects with a value of 5.7 billion Euros have been approved and more than 100 international companies have participated in PPP tenders.
The National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) establishes the broad priorities for Structural Funds Programs in Greece. Greece’s NSRF seeks to achieve a balanced development of the country, with 82 percent of a Fourth Community Support Framework program focusing on regional projects. The National Strategic Reference Framework, a requirement of EU Regulations for the Structural and Cohesion Funds for 2007- 2013, is compatible with a National Reform Program and focuses on innovation, viable infrastructure projects, and upgrading human capital. Beneficiaries of NSRF include individuals, organizations or firms, whether public or private, responsible for initiating or initiating and implementing operations. In the context of aid schemes under Article 87 of the Treaty, beneficiaries are public or private firms carrying out an individual project and receiving public aid. The National Strategic Reference Framework is of significant interest to investors since many of the projects to be carried out, with a total budget of almost 40 billion Euros will involve public tenders.