De­part­ing pro­duc­ers, tourism, tech pur­chases feed trade gap

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY THANOS TSIROS

Many Greek pro­duc­ers have trans­ferred their busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties abroad and now ex­port goods back to Greece, bur­den­ing the trade bal­ance. At the same time, Greek con­sumers have adopted new habits and show a pref­er­ence for cheaper im­ported goods. On top of that, the ab­sence of Greek-pro­duced vi­tal com­modi­ties such as fuel and drugs, dein­dus­tri­al­iza­tion and the re­quire­ments of mil­lions of tourists ev­ery sum­mer serve to ex­plain the trade deficit of 18-19 bil­lion euros per year that bur­dens the econ­omy to­day.

The lat­est avail­able fig­ures on goods im­ported to Greece (dat­ing from 2015), is­sued by the Pan­hel­lenic Ex­porters’ As­so­ci­a­tion, makes for some very in­ter­est­ing read­ing.

The most no­table fig­ure is the es­ti­mated 492 mil­lion euros spent on smart­phones, tablets and lap­tops in 2015, two-and-ahalf times as much as in 2011 (197.6 mil­lion euros). Tele­phone ap­pli­ances (of all kinds) added up to 382 mil­lion euros, while TV sets and de­coders came to 185 mil­lion euros. The cost of im­ports of charg­ers alone amounted to 63 mil­lion euros.

Another costly im­port was pork: Greeks’ fa­vorite meat cost the econ­omy about 358.2 mil­lion euros in 2015, fol­lowed by beef (260 mil­lion), while bone­less meat – cat­e­go­rized sep­a­rately – amounted to 103 mil­lion euros.

Roast cof­fee im­ports added up to 103 mil­lion euros com­pared with just 64 mil­lion in 2011. De­spite the coun­try’s con­sid­er­able milk pro­duc­tion, Greece im­ported a quan­tity that cost 115 mil­lion euros, while sugar im­ports reached 107 mil­lion.

In spite of the great va­ri­ety of fruit Greece pro­duces, it paid 97 mil­lion euros to im­port for­eign fruit in 2015, led by ba­nanas.

The prob­lems faced by the Greek paper in­dus­try in re­cent years led to toi­let paper im­ports soar­ing from 35 mil­lion euros in 2011 to 87.6 mil­lion in 2015.

Worse, the trans­fer of ap­parel com­pa­nies to neigh­bor­ing Balkan coun­tries, as well as the price war among those that stayed in Greece, led to many gar­ments rank­ing high in the list of im­ports: 96.17 mil­lion euros was spent on im­ported men’s trousers, 111 mil­lion on plas­tic footwear, 69 mil­lion on train­ers, 153 mil­lion on other shoes and 236.4 mil­lion euros on knit blouses, to name but a few.

Greeks love their gad­gets, and spent 492 mil­lion euros on im­ported smart­phones, tablets and lap­tops in 2015.

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