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GreeceEY Greece's Papazoglou to ANA: Attracting foreign investments essential for strong, sustainable...

EY Greece’s Papazoglou to ANA: Attracting foreign investments essential for strong, sustainable growth

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Greece remains attractive as an investment destination and many of its individual indicators are improving despite an extremely grim international environment, where the first war on the European continent in the 21st century and sharp increases in the prices of energy and food cast a gloomy shadow, the Country Managing Partner of EY Greece, Panos Papazoglou, told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency in an interview released on Sunday.
“In recent years it has become generally accepted that attracting foreign investments is an essential prerequisite for the country to return to high and sustainable growth rates,” he said, noting that the annual EY surveys aim to contribute to this consensus.

“Thirty-seven percent of businesses are planning to invest or to expand their activities in Greece, while 75 pct consider that the country’s attractiveness will improve in the next three years, the highest percentage among the European countries under comparison,” Papazoglou noted.

This continued positive outlook is reflected in the real figures concerning Foreign Direct Investment, where, according to the EY European Investment Monitor, the foreign investments in Greece in the last two years represent 24 pct of the investments of the last 22 years. Equally important, according to Papazoglou, is the qualitative improvement in these investments.

Regarding the type of activity, 30 pct of the investments – up from 4 pct on average between 2000 and 2020 and 7 pct throughout Europe in 2021 – were investments in company headquarters, while the top sectors were agrifood (20 pct), transport and logistics (20 pct) and IT and software services (17 pct). These are linked with comparative advantages of the Greek economy, such as the quality of its agricultural products, it position as the southeastern “gateway” to Europe and its skilled workforce.

Focus on sustainable development and digital technology

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In these two areas, Papazoglou noted, Greece started from a very low position and has made rapid progress, while he stressed that retaining and further improving its attractiveness as an investment destination demanded incessant effort.

He said companies in Europe and throughout the world were under pressure to reduce their carbon footprint and were thus seeking destinations with a good regulartory framework and where renewables have a high share in energy production. The emphasis on technology also demanded countries with advanced digital infrastructure and a high rate of adoption of technology by consumers, citizens and public administration, he added.

Supporting both the green and digital transitions demanded human resources with the required skills, meaning that this played a critical role in a country’s success in attracting investments and the resulting rate of growth over the coming decades.
“I consider it very encouraging that Greece has in recent years made these matters a top priority,” he said.

According to Papazoglou, a large part of the research conducted this year will be focused on answering how well Greece is performing on this score: “I would say that we are doing very well as regards human resources, are making great strides in digitisation and but need to do a lot of work in sustainable development issues.”
As regards the first two, most investors consider that Greece is doing equally well or better than the European average, though a significant proportion still consider that Greece lags behind. He also emphasised that the country must compare itself to its current competitors, not its own past performance.

Manufacturing, logistics and transport investments rising

Questioned about the impact of the disruption on supply chains, Papazoglou agreed that the successive disruption caused by the pandemic and the latest geopolitical clashes created a fluid situation, with most companies striving to reduce their dependence on countries and geographical regions considered more unstable or less reliable.

For many European companies, this meant moving activities closer to their home base or the markets they serve, meaning increased investment in manufacturing, logistics and transport and a trend to reshoring and near shoring that was bound to benefit Europe as a region, especially Greece.

“The big opportunity here, for our country, is the possibility of reversing the deindustrialisation we have seen in recent decades. In 2020, the added value of industry in Greece as a percentage of GDP was 8.93 pct, the lowest among EU countries,” he pointed out, saying among EY’s proposals had been a collection of policies for reindustrialisation.


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