U.S. Secretary of Commerce Ross Stresses Greece’s Impressive Return to Growth

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross during his speech at the 21st Annual Capital Link Invest in Greece Forum in New York. (Photo by Zafiris Chaitidis)

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross referred to the Greek economy’s impressive return to a path of growth during a speech at an event held in the context of the 21st Annual Capital Link Invest in Greece Forum in New York on Tuesday.

Speaking at the dinner held to present the “2019 Capital Link Hellenic Leadership Award” to prominent investor John Paulson, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce praised the government of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, arguing that its pro-investment policy has significantly contributed to this success. “None of these positive results are coincidence. Everything reflects the Mitsotakis government’s entrepreneurial policies,” he said.

He noted that he was looking forward to welcoming the Greek prime minister to Washington, where Mitsotakis is scheduled to meet U.S. President Donald Trump on January 7 at the White House.

Ross described Greece’s recovery through a series of economic indicators. At the same time, he was optimistic about the outlook for the Greek economy but stressed that Athens must remain committed to the reform effort.

On the lending rate, Ross wondered “who would imagine that Greece’s sovereign debt would be trading at a lower rate than that of the Netherlands.” Even more surprising, he added, was that Greece was now borrowing at a cheaper rate than the U.S.

He referred to Greece’s upgrading by international ratings agencies and did not hesitate to predict that Greece’s credit profile could improve even further in the next two years if the government continues its reform efforts.

Regarding GDP growth in Greece, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce said it was moving at 1.8 pct, noting that it was one of the best performers in Europe. As for next year, he said that even according to the most conservative International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates, growth will reach 2.3 pct, noting that this figure is particularly good for European data.

He called this growth performance “impressive”, given that the Greek economy still carries the burden of producing high primary surpluses of 3.5 pct of GDP. In this light, he referred to other EU member-states that are experiencing growth difficulties, despite the stimulation of their economies, due to large primary deficits.

Regarding unemployment, Ross said that “it has fallen from a record 28 pct at the peak of the crisis to 16.7 pct projected for this year. This is the lowest rate in the last nine years. Although still higher than it was before the financial crisis, the unemployment rate is steadily decreasing every month and is projected to fall to 15.4 pct by 2020.”

Among the other positive developments, he referred to the rising property prices, boosting consumer confidence, and an increase in exports.