The endurance exhibited by Greek exports in the middle of a pandemic is marvelous and demonstrates the progress achieved over the last years by Greek businesses in terms of competitiveness despite multiple adverse circumstances.
In contrast to the dismal economic environment and pervasive uncertainty that are the order of the day, the prospects for Greek exports appear bright.
This is both because with the start of vaccinations economic activity and international trade are expected to gradually rebound and due to the existence of a specific Greek action plan to bolster an outward looking approach.
Stimulating the export sector is now at the centre of economic policy.
It is among the government’s basic priorities and it is based on the detailed and analytic recovery plan drafted by a committee led the Nobel Prize-winning Greek-Cypriot economist Christopher Pissarides.
Moreover it will be fueled by major funding from the EU’s Pandemic Recovery Fund.
There is lots of room for better exports performance. Despite the increase in exports over the last decade, the total level of Greek foreign trade as a percentage of GDP diverges substantially from the EU average.
The Pissarides committee notes that the sectors of industrial and agricultural products and certain services offer the greatest growth prospects and that meeting a nine percent annual growth rate in these sectors is feasible.
The Greek economy cannot rely on heavy industry as do Italy and Germany.
Yet there is a prospect of creating a light industry which will participate in the international production chain.
Greece can achieve a much greater performance by targeting Asian markets with wealthy consumers and further developing an agricultural sector with high added value and luxury products.
The precondition for this to happen is for the state to assist export businesses with policies that strengthen them, like cutting administrative costs.
According to the Pissarides report cutting administrative costs by half could lead to a 30 percent hike in exports.