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Greece lays out red carpet for Aussie businesses

first_img“The red tape will become a red carpet,” Greece’s General Secretary of the Foreign Affairs Ministry has told the Australian delegation at the International Thessaloniki Trade Fair this week. Businesses from around the globe are being courted by Greece as it tries to muster up trade relations and business interest in a flat-lining Greek economy. For the first time, an Australian delegation has made the trip to Thessaloniki to be a part of the Fair, and has been the go to stall for days for locals and international visitors. Ten companies have set up shop at the Fair, including ITM Freight, Cochlear, the Radio Station ‘O Rythmos’, Oakleigh Grammar, Eurobank, KL Energy, Stojanovic and Associates, Hellenic Australian Chamber of Commerce and Innovation (HACCI), the Hellenic Australian Business Council (HABC) and the Australian Embassy. One of the most popular of the group, and not surprising given the climate in Greece, is Danijela Stojanovic’s migration law firm. Director of Trade for HACCI, George Iliopoulos, who is currently at the Fair, says there are queues everyday with people seeking migration information. “It’s the business world queuing and the Trade Fair crowd,” he tells Neos Kosmos. “For people, getting information is the key. They want to understand what laws and regulations they need to be aware of and what the most important issues are.” The Fair attracts people from all around the world and is a great way for international companies to promote themselves. Mr Iliopoulos says all the companies taking part this year have signed on to take part next year. Ugg Australia, the famous sheepskin apparel maker, had to pull out this year when their product shipment was delayed, but say they will be a big fixture in next year’s Fair. Greece’s commitment to the international business world has been upped, with the government making sure the message that ‘Greece is open for Business’ gets out into the international world. Australia is heeding the call, and has shown its strongest interest ever. “What we’re seeing now is Australian companies creating traffic to get into Greece,” Mr Iliopoulos says. “Two three years ago this didn’t exist.” With strong relationships between the two countries and better investment opportunities, the Greek market is looking like a much better venture. The Greek government is now making a bigger effort to assist international businesses, who for many years heard red tape horror stories, while trying to help local business through the economic crisis. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras opened the Trade Fair last Saturday, and believed the country would be seeing its first year of growth in 2014. “This year was the hardest, the most crucial, and it turned out to be the most successful,” he said in his speech. “Greece is sticking to its promises and attaining its goals. The only thing needed is for our lenders to also keep their promises,” he said. Excluded from financial markets since 2010, Greece has been kept afloat solely with 240 billion euros in loans and, under the current program, will be financed until the second half of 2014. Also visiting the Fair was Australia’s Ambassador to Greece, Ms Jenny Bloomfield. She highlighted the fact that Australia’s participation in the Trade Fair not only marked the important relationship between Australia and Greece, but was also a sign of confidence in Greece and its future, highlighting the significant trade opportunities that existed. A new outcome from the Fair, which finishes this Sunday, has come from the Americans. Mr Iliopoulos has been approached by the US Senator, Leonidas Raptakis, to create a joint Australian American venture at the next Trade Fair. “He promised next year he will go back to America and wants to set up a joint American Australian pavilion, to share the space together,” Mr Iliopoulos told Neos Kosmos. The Thessaloniki International Trade Fair receives lots of interest from European countries but has yet to see many Australian and American businesses show interest. The Fair attracts more than 800 exhibitors and approximately 200,000 visitors. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more