Traditionally agricultural, accession to the
EU gave a new momentum to the Greek economy, mainly the industrial
sectors of textiles, clothing and shoes, mining and metals,
cement, chemicals, steel and processed agricultural products. However,
20 per cent of the working population still works the land –
a very high proportion by EU standards.
Tourism, the most significant service
industry, has boomed since the 1980s, with upwards of
10 million tourists now visiting the country yearly.
Shipping is also a key source of income:
Greece has one of the largest merchant fleets in the world. Greek
enterprises have constantly encountered difficulty penetrating
European markets, however, because of the comparatively small
size of the majority of businesses and high transport costs (owing
to its geographical position). Nevertheless, the country exports
large quantities of wheat, barley, maize, tobacco and fruit to
the rest of the EU and elsewhere.
The Greeks have benefited considerably from transfers
of funds within the EU and support for its large public-sector
debt. Growth is stable at around 5 per cent, with inflation nearly
4 per cent, and unemployment has fully retreated from double figures,
at 9.4 per cent in 2004.
Greece’s huge public-sector deficit prohibited it from
meeting the convergence criteria for the European single currency
and the country entered the Euro zone in January 2001. The EU
accounts for about 65 per cent of Greek trade.
Outside the EU, Saudi Arabia (oil), Japan and the USA are the
country’s major trading partners.
Formal suits are expected. French, German and English are often
spoken as well as Greek.
The following associations can offer advice:
Athens Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ACCI), 7 Akademias
Street, 106 71 Athens.
Telephone: (210) 362 5342
Fax: (210) 361 8810
Greece has numerous convention centres and hotels with conference
facilities, in locations ideal for post-conference tours, eg Athens,
Corfu, Halkidiki, Crete, Metsovo (Epirus) and Rhodes. It also has
ships equipped for ‘floating conferences’, sailing between
the islands. For further enquiries, contact the Greek/Hellenic National
Tourism Organisation (see Contacts section).