Business / Economy

Greece, China hold forum to enhance economic ties

(Xinhua) Updated: 2012-09-19 10:55

ATHENS -- Greek and Chinese officials, academics and representatives of the business world on Tuesday reiterated their will to boost bilateral economic ties for the benefit of the two nations and peoples at the 2nd Hellenic-Chinese Business Partnering conference held in Athens.

"In order to succeed, one should help others to succeed," Chinese Ambassador to Greece Du Qiwen said in his opening speech.

Despite current difficulties, Greece remains an attractive destination for investment in sectors ranging from tourism and renewable energy to agriculture and merchant marine, speakers noted, expressing confidence that the country will overcome the debt crisis and return to growth supported by entrepreneurship.

"We are confident about the positive outcome of negotiations with international creditors which have reached a crucial point. We hope in October decisions will be made which will allow us to see the future with optimism," Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said, referring to ongoing talks with EU/International Monetary Fund auditors in Athens regarding a fresh 11.5 billion euros ($15 billion) austerity package.

The Greek government is expected to finalize the package next week, according to the latest local media reports. Stournaras said that the 2012 budget is expected to meet the deficit limits agreed with creditors, despite a recession of 20 percent in five years.

However, he added, the Greek primary deficit is expected to reach 1.5 percent of GDP for 2012 up from one percent initially forecast and recession is expected to amount to 25 percent by 2014, before Greece returns to growth.

The Greek minister and other participants in the forum organized by the Greek Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research and the Business Confucius Institute of the Athens University of Economics, reiterated the need to step up the delayed privatizations program and structural reforms and tackle chronic problems, such as tax evasion.

Focus on development is the only way to overcome such crises, stressed speakers such as Long Guoqiang, Director General of Development Research Center of China's State Council, pointing to the impressive Chinese example of reform.

In particular regarding to the Greek crisis, pointing to successful examples of cooperation between China and Greece, such as COSCO's investment at Piraeus port and the funding of Greek shipping entrepreneurs from China Development Bank, Greek and Chinese officials encouraged entrepreneurs to explore the potential for further business collaboration which could benefit both sides.

Noting that exports of Greek products and services and foreign investments in Greece are key factors in the drive to boost growth, speakers such as Takis Athanasopoulos, head of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund, called on businessmen in both countries to examine the prospects of further ties which promise positive results.

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