Interview: Investment expert optimistic about continuous foreign investment into Greece

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by Valentini Anagnostopoulou

ATHENS, June 27 (Xinhua) -- Despite the novel coronavirus crisis, investors' interest in Greece remains steadily strong, and there is solid ground for Greece to look at the future with optimism, investment expert Andreas Giannopoulos told Xinhua in a recent interview.

As the founder of the "InvestGR -- foreign investments in Greece" forum, which will bring together this July and October for the 3rd consecutive year foreign companies, government officials, academics and experts to discuss the topic of foreign investments in Greece, Giannopoulos is in a key position to assess the extent to which the pandemic is affecting and reshaping the investment landscape.

"My clear takeaway from my discussions with the companies is very straightforward: no foreign direct investment has been postponed due to the pandemic crisis, and most importantly none of them has been canceled," he stressed.

According to Giannopoulos, it is the successful management of the COVID-19 pandemic by the Greek government that not only protected the country's reputation, but also acted as the best showcase of its potential.

Greece managed to keep its infection and fatalities rates relatively low. As of June 26, the country counted 3,343 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 191 deaths.

"This is a solid ground for Greece to look at the future with optimism, despite the obvious economic constraints, the additional burdens on the economy due to the pandemic, but I think Greece has good prospects in view," he suggested.

Having so far emerged from this world-scale challenge, Greece is now looking to keep up its good performance and at the same time successfully restart its economy.

But as the pandemic and lengthy lockdowns have put a serious strain on many of the world's economies, foreign investments have become one of the most burning issues of the day after.

"It is very clear that what we call 'smart money' is abundant all over the world and especially during crisis periods. This 'smart money' is seeking opportunities in new investment destinations. I think Greece can take advantage of this," Giannopoulos explained, referring to international investment trends.

According to data provided by the Bank of Greece, in 2019 the net inflows of foreign direct investment in Greece amounted to 4,137 million euros (4,641 million U.S. dollars) compared to 3,364 million euros in 2018, presenting an increase of 23 percent and marking 2019 as the fourth consecutive year of increase of net foreign direct investment in Greece.

Energy, especially renewable energy resources, tourism, a timeless investment staple, technology, and infrastructures are only some of the most promising and investment-stimulating sectors in Greece, according to the expert.

Real estate, which was booming during the past five years thanks to a Golden Visa program and suffered a serious blow from the pandemic, is also expected to bounce back within the next year, provided travel constraints will be lifted.

The most active investors are European superpowers -- Germany, France and Italy -- and the United States and China, which is behind one of the most emblematic investments of recent years.

"During the 10-year financial crisis in the country, China and Chinese investors have been active and have shown faith in the prospects of the Greek economy. The most important case of these investments has been and still is the COSCO investment, a huge investment in the port of Piraeus, which has allowed Piraeus to become one of the most important ports of Europe," Giannopoulos noted.

As Giannopoulos said, Greece's strong geopolitical advantages are what make it a prime attraction for strategic investments. "It's one of the oldest member states of the European Union with political stability and, most importantly I would say, with a very friendly political environment," he underlined.

Giannopoulos insisted that Greece has now achieved a broader political and social consensus on this issue. "We all know and we all agree that Greece definitely needs foreign investments in order to have again growth and economic recovery," he said.

"I think this is the right moment for foreign investors to invest in Greece. The reason is very simple. Foreign investors look at the long-term of an economy and I think the long-term prospects of the country are better than ever. Despite the new constraints due to the COVID crisis, I think Greece is entering into the post-pandemic era in a kind of a pole position," Giannopoulos concluded. (1 euro = 1.12 U.S. dollars) Enditem

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