Stergios Pitsiorlas

ALTERNATE MINISTER OF ECONOMY AND DEVELOPMENT

Greece 2019  I  Industry  I  Leader

BIOGRAPHY born in born in Thessaloniki, he graduated from Law School at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. He served as Chairman of “Med Sea Health S.A.” and “Mare Village S.A.” since 2008 and between 2011 and 2014 at the construction company “Stroicentre Real Estate SA”. He was appointed Chairman of the Board of Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) in March 2015 and assumed his current position on August 2018.

“AFTER REDUCING OUR VULNERABILITIES AND RESTORING OUR COMPETITIVENESS, WE HAVE FINALLY MADE GREECE A CREDIBLE MARKET AGAIN WORLDWIDE.”

WHAT ARE YOUR MAIN RESPONSIBILITIES AS THE NEWLY APPOINTED MINISTER FOR THE INDUSTRY SECTOR?

 

The appointment of a Minister exclusively responsible for the industry reaffirms the significance of this specific sector for the government. Industry plays a vital role in a country’s growth – that is why it is important for our national economy, too. Industry is the most productive and export-oriented sector of the economy, while it also offers well-paid jobs for the workers. As it was evident from the crisis experience, countries that had not been de-industrialized before the advent of the crisis, survived this painful situation with much less implications. Obviously, it was not our case, since Greece was heavily de-industrialized in the past decades. Thus, I am charged with the mission to assist in the revival of the industrial sector in Greece, which is surely not an easy task. 

 

WHAT IS THE CURRENT SITUATION OF THE INDUSTRY SECTOR IN GREECE TODAY?

 

It is a fact that after a long period of recession, our economy and particularly the industrial sector is growing again. To be more specific, industrial production is increasing the past three years, PMI index is in record-high, while exports of industrial products are continuously rising. As a result, unemployment is falling significantly, as firms employ more and more workers to respond to excessive demand mainly from abroad. In addition to this, investments in industrial equipment have also recovered, while industry in Greece attracts a great part of FDIs. Furthermore, investments in R&D are in record-high, signaling the turnaround of the Greek industry to a knowledge economy. Given the current situation and industrial sector perspectives, we are convinced that industry will be reinforced even further, boosting our already increased exports, as well. 

 

WHAT ARE YOUR MAIN PRIORITIES TO MAKE SURE THE SECTOR CAN DEVELOP TO ITS FULL POTENTIAL?

Greece had experienced a great decrease in the relative size and importance of the manufacturing sector. As a consequence, the contribution of the manufacturing sector was drastically diminished. However, our mid-term goal is to bring industry’s contribution back to 12%. Therefore, the Greek government has now a two-fold mission. Initially, we have to ensure that we will not let our national economy to be de-industrialized again, speeding-up re-industrialization at the same time. 

 

The main problem of the Greek economy that led to the great loss of competitiveness was that investment flows were not ending to industry, but to non-traded sectors of the economy. It is our duty now, more essential than ever, to provide the proper institutional framework so as to give incentives to investors to put their capital in Greek industry again. Through the structural reforms that we are still implementing, we are facing a great variety of impediments related to investment climate like spatial, bureaucracy, corruption, the extensive role of the state as well as problematic Development Laws that distorted investment flows. 

 

“IT IS OUR DUTY NOW, MORE ESSENTIAL THAN EVER, TO PROVIDE THE PROPER INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK SO AS TO GIVE INCENTIVES TO INVESTORS TO PUT THEIR CAPITAL IN GREEK INDUSTRY AGAIN.”

 

GREECE IS INCREASING ITS EFFORTS TO ATTRACT FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT. WHICH PARTICULAR SEGMENTS DO YOU SEE MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR FOREIGN INVESTORS IN THE INDUSTRIAL SECTOR?

Net FDI inflows are in record-high in Greece. However, given our poor performance compared to other countries, we have to increase our efforts. We believe that this goal is tangible, as our economy, and particularly the industrial sector offers a great variety of opportunities. The pharmaceutical industry is very attractive for foreign investors. Giving some examples, a very important investment from a German firm (Boehringer) took place in Greece, while Greek company Pharmathen (major shareholder is UK-based BC Partners) recently announced a 250 million investment plan for the next 5 years. Foreign investors focus on Greek shipping industry, as well, with ONEX – a USA based company - investing in the Greek shipyards of Syros, contributing to the revival of Greek shipping industry after a long period of demise. Moreover, Hellenic Steal will operate again, after the investment of a US-based company. Defense industry is also a sector that offers investment opportunities in Greece – which is mostly unexploited yet – as well as agribusiness, particularly if combined with manufacturing. 

 

Greece is continuously improving the institutional framework, attempting to turn it to a more attractive one. Recently, we developed a new legislative framework concerning medical cannabis and a lot of investors have already expressed their interest. 

 

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR FINAL MESSAGE TO INVESTORS INTERESTED IN GREECE’S INDUSTRIAL SECTOR?

 

Greece has eventually recovered after a very prolonged recession, learning from its past mistakes. In the crisis, we hit the bottom line, but we are now trying to build a new growth model by making our economy more attractive to investors. Industry lies at the heart of our growth strategy. We are maximizing our efforts to re-industrialize our economy by channeling the capital flows back to the manufacturing sector. After reducing our vulnerabilities and restoring our competitiveness, as the bailout exit confirmed in August 2018, we have finally made Greece a credible market again worldwide.