Ex­porters say the 16.6 pct rise in Septem­ber was a flash in the pan

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY DIM­I­TRA MANIFAVA

Bu­reau­cracy, low liq­uid­ity, a lack of state sup­port, money and hu­man re­sources wasted on non­pro­duc­tive ac­tiv­i­ties of­ten done for the sake of ap­pear­ances or for var­i­ous en­ti­ties to jus­tify their ex­is­tence... Th­ese are some of the main prob­lems that ex­port­ing en­ter­prises face to­day, making them pes­simistic de­spite Septem­ber’s uptick.

Ex­porters’ rep­re­sen­ta­tives ap­pear very re­served, say­ing that only if the im­pres­sive per­for­mance recorded in Septem­ber con­tin­ues in the fol­low­ing months can 2016 post a mar­ginal in­crease on 2015.

Ex­ports (in­clud­ing fuel prod­ucts) rose 16.6 per­cent year-onyear in Septem­ber, but this has only served to ab­sorb the losses recorded in pre­vi­ous months, from 6.3 per­cent at end-Au­gust to 3.7 per­cent at end-Septem­ber on an an­nual ba­sis.

Ac­cord­ing to ex­porters’ estimates, ex­ports of goods will see their share of gross do­mes­tic prod­uct drop to 13.3 per­cent this year from 14.5 per­cent in 2015 and 15.33 per­cent in 2014.

“We have been dis­cussing the in­vest­ment in­cen­tives law since last year and it is only re­cently that four of its eight as­pects were ac­ti­vated. The de­lays are huge, as in the case of ESPA [the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion-sub­si­dized Na­tional Strate­gic Ref­er­ence Frame­work]. We are tired of wait­ing, as we have also grown tired of wait­ing for the bailout tranches over the last seven years,” the head of the Pan­hel­lenic Ex­porters As­so­ci­a­tion, Christina Sakel­lar­idi, said on Mon­day at an Athens event on Greek ex­ports.

She added that “there is no point in or­ga­niz­ing mis­sions to coun­tries where we just make ex­ports worth 3 mil­lion eu­ros [per an­num]. Let’s do busi­ness in mar­kets where our prod­ucts al­ready have a pres­ence and there is great in­ter­est in them.” Sakel­lar­idi fur­ther com­mented on ex­porters’ par­tic­i­pa­tion in in­ter­na­tional shows, say­ing that “we can­not think of in­creas­ing our ex­ports just through ex­hi­bi­tions.”

Alexan­dra Hazapi Pitta, of the At­tiki-Pit­tas honey com­pany, said she would like to see more in­ter­est in re­solv­ing the prob­lems of ex­porters: “It took us five months to get a cer­tifi­cate is­sued for ex­port­ing to Egypt and an­other four for China,” she stated.

On top of the other liq­uid­ity prob­lems – i.e. the cap­i­tal con­trols, the lack of bank fi­nanc­ing and de­lays in get­ting al­ter­na­tive fund­ing in­stru­ments such as the in­vest­ment in­cen­tives law up and run­ning – ex­porters also face the state’s re­luc­tance to pay its dues. There is a back­log of tax re­bates to ex­porters amount­ing to 1 bil­lion eu­ros, said the head of the Athens Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try, Con­stanti­nos Micha­los.

Honey is one of the Greek prod­ucts that are pop­u­lar abroad, but Greek bu­reau­cracy is ham­per­ing lo­cal com­pa­nies from sell­ing their com­modi­ties in for­eign mar­kets, as they say.

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