Entrepreneurs could drive economic growth in Greece fairly quickly, United States Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt said in a speech at the Thessaloniki Summit on Friday, as long as the government removes bureaucratic obstacles.
The summit was organised by the Federation of Industries for Northern Greece at the Ioannis Vellidis Congress Center.
In his address, Pyatt focused on the embassy’s initiatives in promoting Greek-US businesses in Greece and abroad, and emphasized the power and potential of Greek entrepreneurs.
“I believe that entrepreneurship-driven growth can be realized fairly quickly, provided that the Greek government removes obstacles and the right incentives are put in place,” the ambassador said. He noted that in his meetings with entrepreneurs they had expressed the wish to remain in Greece “but admitted that government bureaucracy, constant changes in taxation, and lack of financing don’t make it easy,” and suggested that the government embrace and foster innovative ideas and recognize that invention and investment are the twin drivers of economic growth.
“The US government’s top priority here is to support economic recovery in Greece, an important ally and strategic partner in NATO, Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean,” Pyatt said, adding that “a big part of that effort is finding ways to improve the investment and business climate and remove investment road blocks.”
American partnership with Greece was revealed by the numbers: “In 2016, Greece was the 10th fastest-growing source of foreign direct investment in the United States, and the United States was the biggest source of foreign direct investment in Greece. We saw that, for instance, last summer, when US funds led the way in Greece’s successful return to financial markets.”
As an example of the partnering of both US and Greece, Pyatt mentioned travelling to the US with Minister for the Economy and Development Dimitri Papadimitriou and a delegation of Greek companies to the SelectUSA investment summit. The ambassador cited Pyramis metal company – a top supplier for IKEA and for the US market in particular – as “a good example of Greece’s export success” with a global reach.
Other Greek-US projects he mentioned were running involved collaborations in other countries, such as an EPC deal between Mytilineos and General Electric for a power plant in Libya. Such partnerships, based on commitment to innovation and promoting entrepreneurship, will be the heart of the US presence at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) of 2018, where the United States is the honored country, Pyatt said. During his speech, he unveiled the logo the US pavillion will use.
In addition, he said that in December he will be returning to the US with Papadimitriou and Ministers Nikos Pappas (Digital Telecommunications) and Elena Kountoura (Tourism), as well as many Greek business representatives for the Capital Link Forum in New York.
“I can’t underscore enough the tremendous potential I see in this country with its strong human capital and resilient business community,” the American ambassador said. “I am always impressed by Greek innovation and entrepreneurship, like the young start-ups from Patras University and Aristotle University in Thessaloniki that I met at TIF a few weeks ago,” he concluded.