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Chinese businessmen's bleak times in Greece

Updated: 2012-06-16 10:31
By Fu Jing in Athens ( China Daily)

Wu Hailong is one of many Athens-based Chinese businessmen losing confidence in Greece.

"We are waiting, waiting and waiting for a change for the better in this country," said the 47-year-old. "But we are challenged by the political impasse, the worsening business climate and social disorder."

Chinese businessmen's bleak times in Greece

Chinese businessmen's bleak times in Greece


Chinese businessmen's bleak times in Greece

Chinese businessmen's bleak times in Greece
As one of the most successful Chinese businessmen in Athens, Wu said he had confidence in Greece before last year. But as Sunday's parliamentary election approaches, Wu said he had lost hope in Greece's politicians.

"I cannot see any light at the end of tunnel right now," said Wu, the owner of a company that trades in Chinese commodities and publisher of the Chinese-language Euro Weekly newspaper.

"But all business is very bad and difficult," said Wu, from Qingtian, a city in Zhejiang province that is famous for its long tradition of local people moving abroad to start businesses.

In 2009, he handled more than 100 containers of goods imported from China, while the number fell to 40 in 2010, and 20 last year.

"And in the first half of this year, I imported just seven containers of clothes and other commodities," said Wu.

In the eight-floor Chinatown building which he rents and operates, he uses the third floor, which covers 700 square meters, as wholesale store. But it is very difficult for his staff to make business deals.

Around his Chinatown building, about 200 Chinese shops have opened next to each other, but now shoppers are few and the shopkeepers and their employees have glum expressions.

According to Wu, who started his business in Athens in 2001 after leaving his hometown, there are several reasons for the bleak business outlook.

He said that the austerity policies in Greece since 2010 have weakened the spending ability of the medium- and low-income Greek families, and most of them have frozen their spending on clothing and shoes.

At the same time, the Greek government has increased the business tax.

In China, export prices have increased due to inflation and higher labor costs. "With all these factors, you can see how hard our business is," said Wu.

"The fluctuation of the euro is also difficulty for us," he added.

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