New York.- (GreekNewsOnline)
The Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with the Panhellenic Exporters Association of Greece, organized a virtual forum where policymakers and entrepreneurs discuss for about 5 hours how exports can help the recovery of the Greek economy.
The event – entitled “Exports turn Crisis into Opportunity” – was blessed by Archbishop Elpidophoros. Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis, along with senior members of his cabinet, top bankers and entrepreneurs, heads of organizations from Greece and the US, and members of commerce, industry, and export addressed the forum
“Together (with the Panhellenic Exporters Association of Greece) we say “OHI” to a misunderstood disease, to a lack of belief in Greek resiliency, to those who are mistaken as to what Greece and its people are able to produce, accomplish and overcome,” said Markos L. Drakotos, President of the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce, in his opening remarks to the conference attendees.
The foreign trade sector is proving resilient and supporting the Greek economy, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Wednesday in his address to the conference .As Mitsotakis said, his goal is a “Greece that produces, Greece that exports” and he estimated that despite the difficulties of the pandemic, foreign trade can again become the vehicle for the country’s return to development. He noted that “our exports are proving resilient: In the first nine months of 2020, they reached 17.5 billion, exceeding by 253 million the corresponding performance of 2019.”
Mitsotakis said that exports also proved to be flexible, because losses – for example, in the petroleum sector – were immediately replaced by the significant increases in exports of medicines, food, chemicals and metallurgical products.
At the same time, the prime minister also referred to the simultaneous reduction of imports during the same period, which fell by 6 billion euros, improving the trade balance.
As Mitsotakis said, this small feat was based on two pillars: The insight of Greek entrepreneurship, on the one hand, and the support of the government, on the other hand, with the premier noting that all export trade services have now been integrated under the coordination of the foreign ministry.
Regarding government support for exports, the prime minister said that corporate taxation is gradually de-escalating, as are bureaucratic burdens on new investment, while Enterprise Greece is also being reformed and the country has a National Strategic Extroversion Plan with 85 actions.
These actions, Mitsotakis explained, have a single goal: “To keep Greek society upright and the national economy battle-ready for the day after Covid-19.”
“The Greek government has chosen to invest in economic diplomacy, raising this to a factor of major importance for Greece’s foreign policy,” underlined Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, addressing the conference.
As Dendias pointed out, at the present conjucture, an increase in exports can contribute decisively to mitigating the serious economic repercussions of the health crisis, while underlining that the economic environment that is now forming is not easy.
“At the core of our policy is the admission that collaboration in trade not only serves our economic interests but also contributes to the creation of a community of interests with other countries, so it is an element we must capitalise on, not only financially but also politically”.
Reviewing his ministry’s actions in 2019, Dendias pointed to its participation in 355 entirely business-oriented actions promoting openness in 69 countries.
One panel titled: “Greek Tourism, the Greek Mediterranean Diet, and Greek Gastronomy,” garnered particular interest since it concerned two significant Greek industries. Moderated by HACC Director and Attorney, George N. Zapantis, the panelists discussed the interplay of Greek Food with Tourism.
A Keynote address made by Greek National Tourism Organization President, Ms. Angela Gerekou, highlighted Greece’s award as the World’s Leading Tourist Board, a particularly important distinction as the country plans for the the 2021 tourist season. Ms. Gerekou promoted the idea that Greece can certainly attract travelers as a culinary destination. Additionally, she added that we can all figuratively “travel” to Greece when we physically cannot, by consuming the exceptional Greek food products available for export throughout the world.
Next, Ms. Nicky Giavroglou, CEO of Hellenic Fine Oils who exports to over 30 countries, added that Greece can cater to and attract food conscience travelers with an emphasis on quality and mindfulness of the ecological impact of cultivation methods, sustainability and organic products.
Alexandra Pitta-Chazapi, Managing Director of Attiki Bee, echoed the importance of strict quality control in place at her company to ensure uniformity and excellence. She furthered that since the Greek diet has a menu that can compliment all tastes and preferences, Greeks should be proud of promoting it and its products.
Next, we heard from Nick Livanos, which brought the perspective of a restaurateur, as well as recently witnessing the road travelled by his son to launch a high quality Greek Gin, called “Stray Dog” which is produced in Thessaloniki. Mr. Livanos also cited the caliber of Greek products as a criteria for what he chooses to bring into his restaurants. He noted the impressive quality found in sustainable fishing as well as in wine production.
The panel then benefited from the perspective of John Stavros, an importer who brings over 250 products into the US every year. He further noted the increasing caliber of Greek products and stressed the point that although we have gone through a period of great difficulty during the pandemic, he is witnessing the creation of many opportunities that can be harnessed by producers and exporters.
The panel concluded with chef Diane Kochilas, who is currently the host, creator, and co-producer of cooking-travel show titled, “My Greek Table” which airs on PBS and online. Ms. Kochilas talked about how the show aims to highlight Greece as desirable for travel not just for its stunning beaches and culture, but also as a phenomenal culinary destination.
n a panel concerning the process of registering the Greek products for export to the United States Kostas Mastoras, President of Optima Foods and TITAN predicted the next couple of years to be difficult for everyone and suggested Greece to invest in promoting its products, especially through the social media, focusing in the younger generations of consumers.
Mastoras also suggested to the Greek companies to redesign both their products and their strategies and to promote ready recopies.
The President of the Atlantic Bank of New York, Nancy Papaioannou spoke about the contribution of the banking sector to the development and the exports.
The sisterhood agreement between the Hellenic – American Chamber of Commerce (HAAC) with the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) was officially signed at the end of the session entitled “Valuable Contribution of the Chambers” which took place in the context of the digital forum, “Exports turn Crisis into Opportunity,” co-organized by the HAAC and the Panhellenic Exporters Association.
The panel participants were the President of the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce, Markos L. Drakotos, the Consul General of Greece in New York, Dr. Konstantinos Koutras and the President of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry and President of the Union of Chambers in Greece, Mr. Konstantinos Michalos.
The moderator was Mrs. Eftihia Pylarinou Piper, Sr VP of the RED APPLE Group, and a member of the Board of HACC. She had initiated the idea of the “Sisterhood” and introduced the two Presidents of the respective Chambers.
The Consul General of Greece in New York, Dr. Konstantinos Koutras, praised the role of the bilateral commercial Chambers of Commerce, emphasizing that they play their own important role by building bridges between countries, economies, business communities, and culture. He stressed that from our history as Greeks even from antiquity it is proven that trade has always been the safest way to achieve mutually beneficial cooperation, stability and peace. Living in these turbulent times when the world has become more connected and more disoriented at the same time we need to focus on instruments that promote engagement and cooperation.
Greece is an extrovert country by nature and has always been on top of Trade, business and innovation worldwide through its energetic and vibrant diaspora. The Greeks abroad continue this legacy that we cherish and that we build upon at the same time. Bilateral chambers of commerce like the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce based here in New York with the Chamber in Greece assist businesses who want to export products and services or to invest. The added value of a bilateral commercial chamber can be summarized as follows
a. Comprehensive support of business that need information and connections in a new market
b. Promotion of the image of both countries via their business communities and their culture
c. Setting up formal and less formal activities like seminars, events, dinners, business delegations, etc.
d. Connecting official diplomatic entities and state authorities in respective countries. So, it is beyond any doubt that chambers are valuable instruments of economic cooperation and therefore can promote exports, contribute significantly to the increase of bilateral frames and investment. Bilateral Chambers are elements of a comprehensive economic diplomacy. However, they do not substitute the official diplomatic entities such as embassies, consulates and trade offices. Hey rather complement and connect with them.
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Markos L. Drakotos said that the organization which facilitates business relations between the US and Greece is the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce. “That is what we do, that’s who helped put this event together and we welcome the participation from people like Mr. Metropoulos and like Mr. Calamos. This is a good time for me to thank the Red Apple Group and Mr. Catsimatidis who has been wonderful to the Chamber and to the Greek Community. He’s always been very supportive”.
Markos Drakotos talked about his vision of uniting all the Greeks wherever they are and announced the creation of Project “AIONAS” “Uniting an entire Nation of People”. Aionas is a free digital site to promote all Greek organizations, job postings, business opportunities, and will work as an amber alert when there is true need. The site is aionas.org
Mr. Michalos President of ACCI informed the audience of the first “Virtual Reality Exhibition Center” available to all ACCI members.
ACCI is also provides
a. Incentives and financial tools for fostering innovation and promoting them
b. Measures for improving the financing and administrative details related to commercial enterprises.
c. Upgrade in personnel skill for 15,000 workers in the private sector on digital tools
d. Coordination of countries
e. Business growth through mergers and partnerships.
The official signing of the Sisterhood of the two Chambers also took place during the above panel named “The role of the Chambers,”.
Antony Contomichalos, a member of HACC’s Board, brought the signed document by Mr. Drakotos to Mr. Michalos and the document was signed live during the panel discussion.
The event was coordinated by our Board member Mrs. Eftihia Pylarinou-Piper, Sr. Vice President of the Red Apple Group,