More efforts needed to attract foreign investments, Greek Finance Minister Alogoskoufis says, concluding a three day visit in Washington D.C.
Washington, D.C.- Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Friday said the government was continuing efforts to boost the country’s export orientation and its role in the wider Southeast European region, aiming to maximize foreign investment inflows.
Speaking to reporters, after completing an official visit to Washington DC, the Greek minister said the Greek economy was no longer a small economy at the southern end of the Balkans, but the epicentre of a region with high growth rate and outlook in an environment of political stability. “This message has not yet been fully comprehended either in Europe or in international organisations,” Alogoskoufis said.
The sectors of energy, transportation, telecommunications, real estate development and tourism are attracting the interest of American investment community, the Greek minister said, underlying efforts currently underway to make the country’s investment environment even more friendlier and attractive to investments. “We have not reached the end of the road in this effort, there are many things still to be done in combating bureaucracy and simplifying tax controls,” he noted.
Alogoskoufis announced an agreement with the US government to co-organise a big business conference, along with Southeast European countries, aimed to promote investment opportunities in the region. He underlined that an information campaign to promote Greek economy -along with business delegations- was continuing in Latin America (Brazil) and Russia.
The Greek minister said Greece was currently in a position to contribute more in efforts to combat poverty in third world countries. “It is important to be consistent in our obligations towards World Bank and to gradually raise our contribution,” Alogoskoufis said.
Commenting on visa limitations to Greeks travelling to the US, the Greek minister expressed his optimism over positive developments soon.
Alogoskoufis arrived on Saturday in Australia.
George Alogoskoufis met here on Thursday with US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns at the State Department, with the latter praising Athens’ recent economic performances as well as Greece’s role in the wider SE Europe region.
Burns, a popular former US ambassador to Greece, also cited the continuing bilateral cooperation between the two countries and a recent increase in formerly dormant US investments in the east Mediterranean country.
Alogoskoufis also met with US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte.
On Wednesday Minister Alogoskoufis speaking in the US Congress at an event organised by the Hellenic American Heritage Council outlined the role played by Greece in the wider region of SE Europe.
As a member of the European Union, the eurozone and NATO, Greece contributed substantially to the economic stability of its neighbouring countries during the difficult years of transition to a free economy, at the same time supporting the process of development of democratic institutions in those countries, Alogoskoufis explained, adding that Greece backs the EU accession of Turkey and other countries in the region, provided, however, that those countries respect the rules and terms that have been set out by the EU.
He further underlined the important role played by Greek businesses, which have invested more than 15 billion dollars in the region.
Regarding the positive achievements of the Greek economy, and focusing mainly on the fiscal adjustment and the economy’s high growth rates with a parallel reduction of unemployment, Alogoskoufis said that Greece was now ready to capitalise on its geopolitical position at the crossroads of three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa.
Greece, he said, can offer American businessmen direct access to those markets, providing the political, economic and fiscal stability required.
The event was attended by a plethora of US Senators, House of Representatives members, members of the diplomatic corps, businessmen and mass media representatives.
Alogoskoufis also met Wednesday with World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz, after which he said his purpose was to give the message that Greece now ranked among the developed countries of Europe and was able to contribute to the aid programmes of significant international organisations to the countries of the Third World.
“We have now reached the point that our country can gradually increase its contribution to successful international organisations, such as the World Bank, and more specifically to aid programmes for very poor countries, mainly in Africa, which are the World Bank’s priority today,” Alogoskoufis said, referring to the issues discussed with Wolfowitz.
Greece currently contributes an amount corresponding to 0.12 percent of its GDP on an annual basis to the World Bank, he noted.
Other topics discussed included assistance programmes for the Balkan countries, as well as the course of the Greek economy.