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Economy

Mitsotakis Sees Post COVID-19 Boom Coming for Greek Economy

November 10, 2020

ATHENS — While Greece's economy is expected to shrink 8.2 percent this year because of the effects of COVID-19 and two lockdowns aimed at preventing its spread, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis sees a big rebound looming in 2021.

He told CNN TV journalist John Defterios at the 5th EU-Arab World Summit that when – or if – the pandemic lifts that conditions are in place for a turnaround, with people saving up and ready to spend again when they can.

Mitsotakis' New Democracy government is also reaching out to foreign investors scared away by the anti-business former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA and had been accelerating a slow recovery from a near decade-long economic and austerity crisis when the Coronavirus hit.

But a real key will be if a vaccine is available to restore confidence and allow the end of restrictions that have kept businesses closed for weeks or months at a time although the damage could be permanent to many restaurants and others expected to shut for good.

He told Defterios that New Democracy is a friend to entrepreneurs and businesses and bringing reforms to lure them with incentives in a country notorious for a labyrinthine bureaucracy and petty corruption in public services tied to getting licenses to operate.

“In Greece, savings are increasing, which means that people will want to spend when the pandemic is over. And businesses will want to invest. And smart companies are already investing,” he told Defterios in an online discussion.

Mitsotakis mentioned a primary interest in the hotel and tourism sectors and beyond, as in the investments of Abu Dhabi Capital Group in fish farming and state-of-the-art food technologies.

He noted major investments by Microsoft which plans three big data and computer cloud operations and Volkswagen in turning the Greek island of Astypalea into a smart e-mobility model with electric vehicles.

He said major financial institutions have expressed interest post-Brexit in establishing a presence in Greece. “We offer enough incentives to allow them to do that. Greece must turn into a financial hub for the greater region,” he said.

The pandemic has created investment opportunities at European level as well, he added, as the EU now "borrows as a supranational entity to strengthen the member states.”

The EU has also given Greece some 32 billion euros ($37.77 billion) in loans and grants to help deal with COVID-19 after the government earlier during a first lockdown subsidized workers and companies temporarily closed with 17.5 billion euros ($20.66 billion.)

“The Coronavirus pandemic will have winners and some losers. I'm convinced of that. And I am pretty sure that Greece will be on the side of the winners,” he also said.

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